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Tin Cans: Prologe
Posted By: Andres<andres_vera2000@yahoo.com>
Date: 22 June 2006, 9:46 am

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01452h, January 21, 2527 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Taurus System, UNSC Outer Colony Controlled Space
Diamond Continent, Ruby.

Two years before, when humanity was all he knew, he could have said he was invulnerable. The M808B Scorpion MBT was, by far, the heaviest, most powerful beast in the Corps arsenal. During the Campaign at the Trinity Moons it had been nicknamed by the rebels the "Devil's Tortoise," slow but deadly in all ways. It had been the powerful Covenant weapons that had changed the infamous nickname to "Tin Cans."
      Still, it was in armored combat that the humans stood the best chance of wining, when properly led. In the first engagement with the Covenant a Jackal sniper, and he hated the Jackals with every member of his body, a Tank Commander was killed by a beam that penetrated the hatch from above, a tree, thus leading the way into the new era, the era where armor was not as thick as it was and when tankers could be sure that whenever they went the Covenant would find a way to penetrate their hulls.
      At two thousand meters down the flat terrain, part of the road and the grasslands that flanked it, the cannon had to elevate to compensate for the flat range of the ninety mike-mike hyper-active APFSDS. The long rod penetrator, as so called by the tank people, fell free of the casing leaving a depleted uranium arrow that flew straight into the hull of Wraith, it struck it a seventy five degree angle on its purple bow and ricocheted skywards, loosing itself on the deep, blue sky.
      "Damn," said Gunnery Sergeant Ernest Atwood. He pressed the red LOAD button on his right joystick and a new Armor Piercing round was loaded into the breech of the cannon just above the turret. "Fire," he barked at his young gunner on the station bellow him, PFC Andree Stevansson.
      The young man pulled the trigger of his T-shaped handles and in a millisecond several sparks leaped out of the hull of the Covenant tank. "Target!" He pulled his brown, sweat soaked T-shirt and away from his neck, so to breathe, and punched the hatch open. It had been a short, costly meeting engagement, in other words, both the Covenant and the humans found each other while marching towards and objective.
      Task Force two-twenty two Mech had been ordered to march, secure and hold a hilltop that overlooked the metropolis that was Diamante. The commander of the battalion ordered a column, vehicle behind vehicle, formed by the bulk of the force to roll up a paved street flanked by the infantry in their APCs and Marine Fighting Vehicles hiding in the woods to avoid a Varo's dissaster.
      His tank was with the scouting party, attached to an APC platoon and they found the Aliens marching on a slight slope, twenty vehicles total. He immediately reported to his superiors what he had seen and right away the green officers took action, ordering the entire Battalion, tree tank companies and a mechanized team, to form at the opposite side of the ridge shoulder to shoulder like an muzzle loaded company in the sixteen hundreds.
      The Covenant acted extraordinarily fast. In one volley of accurate plasma rods and Wraith-shots they hollowed the hulls of the human vehicles with no losses, at least not serious. The remaining infantry retreated leaving the scout party, two tanks and six APCs hiding in the woods that flanked the slope as a forward observer party, as per the battalion commander's orders.
      The Lieutenant in charge ordered his team to flank the Covenant when they began to move again, separately. Apparently the Aliens followed that old military principle and saying, march separately fight together. Their heavy element, six Wraiths took a path down a paved road the battalion had previously passed by where the small task force laid waiting.
      "Good job!" he told his APC wingman that popped his head above the hatch right after a blue explosion rocketed skyward. The engagement consisted on several rear shots and, for a damned last second a Wraith made a three-sixty turn to face the incoming fire, to face three accurate shots from both tanks, one penetrated found the plasma generator and the vehicle went up in blue flames.
      "Thanks gunny," replied the Corporal with his head popped over the square shaped tracked vehicle. The rear door of the vehicle swung open and a young Marine ran out, rifle shouldered and his cap pointing towards his back, he trekked towards the tank where Atwood was waiting form him.
      "Lieutenant," he paused as he took a deep breath of cold air. "Good to see you."
      "You too Gunny, I have new orders from HQ." He held his right fist up swung it right and pointed down the road where the six carcasses of Wraith stood. "The Colonel FUBARred the entire op before it even started."
      The Sergeant had never liked the idea or reality, in his case, that someone less smart than him, albeit stupid would tell him exactly what and when to do shit. He had a sense for people and, when this Lieutenant spoke to him he understood immediately that this guy was not FUBAR, this guy was a killer. "We have orders to scout down the road, hope to locate the Covenant supply vehicles that must be following the Wraiths."
      "FUBAR is right sir," replied Atwood. "Their supply vehicles must have heard the racket. If not warned, we could be going straight into an ambush."
      "They think they can mircromanage the entire war," the Lieutenant nodded with his upper lip bitten. "They are wrong-"
      "Contact, car, front," reported the gunner. "It looks like a Ghost," with the thermal scanner the visibility of the gunner sight was extended long enough to identify the vehicles five kilometers ahead.
      "A Ghost it is," replied the Sergeant turning to face the Lieutenant. "Talk to me sir."
      "Are there any troop carriers with them?"
      "Roger," said the gunner swinging slightly the turret of the tank. "Just behind them, PCs, whats what they are called?"
      "Shadows," noted the Lieutenant.
      "Who comes up with these names?" said Andree.
      "Oscar-November-India," said the Lieutenant pulling the charging handle of his MA5B backwards. "We are going to ambush them," he turned around and waved at the crews of the APCs. The backdoors swung rearwards, and out of the six troop transports eight men walked out, spread and dropped on the ground just inside of the treeline.
      "I have an idea sir," noted the sergeant as he grabbed his escaping Lieutenant on the shoulder.
      "Talk to me sarge."
      "Why don't we simply dodge?"
      "Marines don't run like cowards sergeant."
      "No, I mean we simply let them pass us by, then march towards their hilltop."
      "See if we can find a Covenant base to blow up."
      "Roger that," said the ell-tee, signaling the troops to embark on. "Retreat one hundred meters, to the forest, we will cover you."
      Atwood grabbed his left joystick and pulled it towards him, making the tracks spin rearward. He swung his hatch to the rear –so that he could see- and zigzagged his way across the forest.
      "This is Echo one-three, in position." He swung the turret back towards the road. He was joined shortly after by the APCs.
       "Echo seven-one in position."
      Aerial contacts detected, warned the onboard Situation Computer.
      He jumped inside the turret closed the hatch and looked at his computerized sighting system display. The crafts had skis for landing gears, were purple, and almost oval shaped. They were Banshees. Low orbit, hunter-killer crafts that were responsible for most of the recorded tank kills of the war.
      Not this time. He knobbed on his right joystick a HE round, pressed the green LOAD button and frowned. "Seven-one, I have gun slaved on the flyers, want me to take them out?"
      "Cease fire," he told his gunner.
      The Ghost was the covenant equivalent to a cavalry scout, it was their all purpose vehicle capable of reaching five hundred miles an hour on open fields, other than its incredible speed, it was useless in armored combat. With two Ghosts leading the supply convoy reached the burnt Wraiths and immediately the Elites, Grunts and Jackals unloaded and secured the area, unaware of the heavy and light guns that followed their every movement.
      Sergeant Atwood stroked his right eye, and slid his left hand towards the floor of the turret wiping a pool of sweat out of his face, his plan had failed and the Covenant were looking for him, and his mechanized team. The night hid the green, brown and black camouflaged Scorpions from sight, yet, they were perfectly visible if you knew where to look. So he had to be very careful not to warn them with any sudden movements.
      "It could be a turkey shot," said Andree.
      "It always could be." He locked the gun in place and relaxed on his chair by inhaling air conditioned air and arching his shoulders. It had been a long day and his entire body was close to a sudden breakdown. It had been a sunny morning and the conditions were given for a memorable battle. The UNSC Fifth Marine Division, the "Consummate Assassins," had formed a circle around the massive Covenant landing zone where at least a dozen dropships orbited the nap of the earth. Sergeant Atwood was a vet from the Trinity moons campaigns, a suppression of an armed rebellion, and he thought his tired old eyes had seen everything.
      Nothing he had seen, either good or bad, compared to what he had laid eyes upon that morning. An entire battalion, sixty two tanks and twenty APCs were set aflame in a single blow by a Covenant dropship. He had bailed out in time to avoid the long, wide purple beams to cripple his tank; he crawled to safety -after jumping away from the hull- behind a tree and waited for three days under a clasp of grass until rescued by a scout Warthog.
      It had been unbelievable. An entire division wiped out shortly after the "Attack, attack, attack," order was patched through on to the lower levels. For the next three days the ¨Covenant had advanced like a bulldozer over soft sand, killing everything on their path, until they reached a hard line of defense where the entire firepower of an Expeditionary Force had defeated the Covenant on a gallant move.
      The Marines let the Covenant pass just above them, turn around and shoot them on the back. True, it was not the Jarhead way to shoot targets like backstabbers, yet, it had been a successful move. Alas, the Corps retreated shortly after, towards new position on which to fight. The hilltop was one. It was now open for grasp and the Covenant knew it. "They are moving." Two of the Ghosts were boarded by Elites; they lofted of the ground, and accelerated away down the road passing the burning hulls nearby. Though he hated to admit it, the infantry had won the day. The armored counterattack that had been planned after the bold maneuver had been canceled.
      Then, all plasma Weapons in the troop convoy opened fire, sending screeching noises through the maze of erected vegetation. "Ambush!" immediately Andree pressed the twin triggers of the gunner handles, the hammer struck the base of the semi-oval round causing an explosion on the chamber. At several dozens of thousands feet the round was invisible even if it was totally painted red for tracing.
      It struck one of the Shadows on the glacis as it turned to face the forest. The explosion took out six Grunts onboard and the send the Shade turret skywards. "Compromised!"
      "Gunner, coax troops!" Stevansson centered the cross of his sight and a jackal and opened fire sending hundreds of 7.62x51mm rounds in an opening arch, taking the Covenant out one by one.
      "Target!" he bellowed. "Re-engage, HEAT, Shadow," the second vehicle was turning when it took out an APC with a single burst of purple plasma. "Fire!" The entire sixty-six tons of hardware shuddered a bit backwards as the main gun fired a shaped charge at the Covenant vehicle. It blew upwards for twenty meters and landed sideways right next to the Wraiths carcasses.
      "This is Echo seven three!" called the damaged APC.
      "Copy," noted Atwood looking to his right and staring at the burining PC, several men were jumping out, on fire and hurt. "On the move." He grabbed his right joystick, pressed it to his right until the tank made a nearly ninety degree turn and pushed it forward. The tank rolled through the forest zigzagging the trees until it reached the front of the burning PC, shielding its occupants from the incoming fire.
      "Fire," he ordered his gunner, who lat loose on a pack of assaulting Jackals formed on a perfect phalanx. The high-powered 7.62x51mm rounds from the coaxial machinegun tore through them one by one, making them fall lifelessly on the ground.
      Immediately after the Jackals fell the enemy, with their small arms, opened fire on the tank sending blue, green and purple beams towards the hull. They began to chip the armor. "Don't worry sir," said Andree popping a HEAT round down towards the road. It struck a tree and exploded immediately, the sixty millimeter warhead send a shockwave that dropped the Covenant on the spot. "I got a hang on it."
      "Copy," his voice blended perfectly with the soar sound of a mini-gun spraying ammo on the road, taking down an entire row of shooters in one burst. The APCs joined the fight and together with the tanks wiped out the entire covenant force.
      The next HEAT round found the third Shadow, its bow blew up and it fell on the ground separately from the rear. "Target!" he bellowed. "Seven-one this is one-three, recommend you warm up the engines and retreat," he knobbed HE-FRAG on his right joystick and pressed the LOAD button, placing a fresh one on the breech. "Troops, in the open, fire!"
       "Roger," called the Platoon Sergeant of the four APCs as a thud indicated smoke grenades were jettisoned out of the light tracks. "We are waiting for the wounded to be loaded out of the burning track, otherwise ready to move."
       "Copy," replied Atwood looking at the soldiers moving behind the tracks, loading wounded on the second track of the platoon. Just as they did a train was to be heard coming in, in a blue, spherical form. The detonation made the tank shudder and jump. "Better move now!"
       He moved his left joystick towards his left side, making the left track go towards the rear, turning the tank and facing the road. "We will hunt that Wraith down."
       "Roger that one-three."