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Tin Cans: Combine Arms
Posted By: Andres<andres_vera2000@yahoo.com>
Date: 22 September 2006, 1:27 am

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When an armored company marches in a line the turrets of said vehicles are to be turned side-to-side to cover all possible angles. A Company,3rd Battalion, 22nd Marine Strike Team, 111th Marine Division had the job of securing the road towards that cut the mountain in half. After the hill, if the operation was successful, the tanks would find an empty gap in the Covenant lines, while the Mechanized Infantry secured the woods, and would wreck havoc in the enemy lines. To do that they had reached Phase Line lemon without trouble, where a forest stretched down from the mountain forming a curtain of foliage between the beginning of the mountain road and the vehicles. Approaching from the west, through the woods, was a company of infantrymen who was distracting the Covenant from the main assault.
       Leading the column was a M1116A1 APC armed with a turreted .50 cal machinegun shielded by armored plates and the hatch on the rear. Manning the turret was Martha Robinson, Vehicle Commander. A few centimeters from her eyes were to thick binocular-like thermal scopes. It served as a thermal image system that was extremely useful for picking up targets, just as the one she sighted on a tree branch, camouflaged by brown netting. It was a Jackal scout and it, could not be allowed to survive.
       She stepped on her right pedal making the turret turn to face the general direction of the target, which began to move, she centered the iron sights on the target and pressed the butterfly triggers. The tree branch took the first hit, breaking in half, making the creature fall to the ground and it landed awkwardly, she walked the red tracers towards it and a purple explosion erupted on its belly, it had been that easy, her first kill and she felt no remorse.
       "This is two one, contact troops front, woods on the east, target down," she reported calmly as it nothing exciting hadn't happen.
       "Big dog to all units, they now know we are coming, lock and load, out."
       Martha switched the intercom ON and simply said, "saddle up."
       "Roger that," reported the embarked engineer squad. Suddenly she heard continuous booms on the rear, she turned around and saw the source of it, she already knew it by the sound. Two MFVs blasted into the woods, their sixty millimeter autocannons barking out. The muzzle blasts sparking, lighting and expelling gasses out of their meter long tubes.
       The fuel rod Gun shell fell short of the advancing APC, plummeting dirt and grass in every direction. "Identify," said Martha, still perfectly calmed. The onboard IR sensors had picked the launch, trajectory and touchdown spot of the FRG. Her command voice went straight to the computer, witch uploaded to the turret commands, the fifty cal MG turned around to face a bush grove on the open. She shattered it, the fifty cal rounds ripping the Grunts apart.
       "This is Two-One, contact, AT, right side of the road."
       There was a seemingly endless pause and then, the word came. "R-I-P."

Master Sergeant Lewis Stewart received the order gracefully. RIP, or relief in place, called for a substitution of current units engaged by bypassing them, and taking on the fight. He commanded oval shaped hull called a Marine Fighting Vehicle, and he was to take on the fight. In front of him was the command console displaying three Multi-Function-Displays, to his sides were two joysticks. In one of the MFDs he had his ammo displayed.
       He had three weapons, his main autocannon, a coaxial 7.62x51mm machinegun and a Jackhammer launcher. "Form a wedge," he ordered his vehicles, three more forming a platoon of four. He swung his left joystick was pressed towards his right, taking the right side of the fourth APC of the column.
       The vehicle accelerated to sixty miles per hour, passing by two APCs and two MFVs immediately shifting to third gear. So far so good, he told himself. He reached the edge of the "curtain" and swung to the north, and then, the Covenant appeared. They were dispersing, fleeing in disbelief as they found an mechanized company on their rear. Lewis immediately found his target and knobbed on his right joystick "JACKHAMMER."

Marcus was suddenly surprised the pounding of the Shade ceased, the forest around lit on fire. He raised his head above the grass and saw the three "sticks" of the Shade turning towards the south. Suddenly it exploded in a mini fire mushroom.
       "Jackhammer!" he said as he suddenly felt back in control of his company. He turned back to his RTO and calmly said, "report."
       "First platoon is reporting heavy losses but they are ready to move," he paused. "Second and third report they are ready."
       "Shit," said Marcus immediately pointing at the former position of the Shade, several, lots of Grunts were making a run for it. "Shoot them damn it!" The Marines opened fire, small plumes of dirt and purple splashes of blood erupted in and around the Grunts, falling down before they even got out the ditch. "That's what I'm talking about," said Marcus as he cheered with his Marines. "OK," he said crouching by his RTO, "tell first platoon to get their shit together. Second is to advance and link up with third, once that is achieved they are to push together in a line, reach the ditch and wait for the tanks and engineers."
       The RTO robotically repeated the orders and nodded making the Captain stand from his crater and running –slightly crouched- towards the conglomeration of Marines in the left flank. He shouted "Go, go, go!" and they all sprinted to their duties.
       He zigzagged through the trees as he reached the ditch where he went prone, his two hundred and ten pound body slamming hard into the ground. He could now hear the combination of sixty mike-mike and fifty cal as the vehicles approached.

Martha swung the machinegun in a clockwise spin as she targeted the frightened Grunts, taking as many as she could for her personal count. The MFVs concentrated on suppressing the forest for special surprises.
       "This is two-one in position at checkpoint Charlie, should we deploy?"
       "Roger deploy the engineers, watch out for those mines."
       "Move it, move it," she bellowed as she stamped the ramp open, the engineers deployed in front of the APC with all their gadgets and dohokies. Those artifacts were useless. Covenant mines were stealth to anything human made except for the good old metal detector, witch had to be on top of it to sense it, thus the Marines had to navigate the minefields in the middle of crossfire.
       "Two-one," said Martha, "boots on the ground no fire coming in from the woods, I repeat no incoming fire from the woods, suppression fire established."
       "Roger that Two-One," Magallanes reported.

Corporal Daniel Jeremy stayed in a kneeling position as his engineer team ran a IR sweep of the terrain with a probe they hammered underground, "I ain't seen shit Corporal."
       "Of course you don't meat, we are going to have to do this manually," he dropped his rifle, unbuckled his backpack and swung it around his body, setting it on the ground in front of him. He shoved his hand into it and grabbed a long, shovel like device and pulled it out of the bag. "Metal detectors, everyone!"
       His Marines did the same and the hunt, was on. He began to crouch-walk towards the north, the shovel like device on a regular swing from side to side. Normally the engineer platoon would move overlapping, covering each other as one checked for mines and other provided suppressive fire.
       With six MFVs filling the possible sources for incoming with explosions, there was no need to concern, just seep. They passed the Fighting Vehicles in a line of twenty and suddenly their hands began to vibrate as the detectors picked up metal buried on the ground.
       He crouched. "This is Echo two-one, contact with AT devises underground north of phase line Lancer, request we hold."
       "Roger," said Magallanes.

The RTO nodded, "Roger that."
       "What?" asked Marcus on the ditch besides de paved road.
       "Big dog reports landmines are in position at the mountain bed, its goanna take a while to take them out," said the radioman with a worrisome look on his face. "It doesn't looks good."
       "Aye," Marcus uttered, "Just what I wanna hear."
       His three platoons started the assault with one hundred and eighty men, give or take. He had around sixty left. And the worst, he knew, it was about to come. The Covenant were all but cowards, they were brave and above all, had a tactical situation awareness that made UNSC digitalized divisions look like stone age hordes. He knew it was just a matter of time before they counter punched.
       "MG sections report they are moving to link up with us." To his right, Marcus could see his Marines, on the ditch and the tree line waiting for the enemy move. It was a wait that would last little time.
       "Sir," said the RTO. "They are jamming our freqs," he noted as he hung the handstick on his helmet and gripped his rifle.
       "They always do, right before they move." The Captain took his canteen out, took a sip of water and then ducked.
       "Contact!" uttered a Marine somewhere along the line. Immediately the Captain grabbed the RTO by the shoulder and began to run across the line, with no COM set because of the jamming, he had to do things the old fashioned way. He bypassed his platoon entirely and reached the Heavy Weapons section where the man he was looking was prone on the ground. "Where?" he asked his Company First Sergeant, "Where the fuck what?"
       Suddenly the sound of compressed plasma being erupted out of the arm of a beast shattered the calm that Marine's ill advised got used to. The beam passed right over second platoon and struck a tree, breaking it in half with a heavy explosion, the tree collapsed and landed over one his Marines. He backtracked the direction of the beam to the turn of the road, was a Hunter surrounded by a dozen cheering Grunts. Marcus jumped to the ground and landed prone, rifle at the ready.
       Suddenly the chaos of combat enveloped the Marines, shouting and shooting anything that glimpse movement. It was all wrong. He had to regain composure and command. "Lieutenant Potter!"
       "Yes sir!" shouted a Jarhead three meters to the right.
       "Get your platoon to put a base of fire on that Hunter!"
       Marcus turned around faced his RTO, "OK, you are my runner now, go find the MG team and tell them to set up one hundred meters north of here, tell them to cut the access to this stretch of the road, otherwise we are going to get hammered."
       "Yes sir," said the PFC.
       "First sergeant?" he uttered to the man next to him. The man turned around to face him when another beam came out of Hunter towards his men. This time the Hunter walked the beam from right to left on a squad of Marines on the ditch, they were dead before the heat cooled off. "We need to frag the son-of-a-bitch."
       "Roger," said the first Sergeant. "But we lost the Jackhammers and LSWs in the bombardment on the woods, we only have our frag grenades."
       "Goddamn it," he turned to see the Hunter, on its seemingly fetal position, crouched and cramped with its sparkling shield –by the bullets- up and front. Marcus looked around, the Grunts were all dead and the only thing living on the road was the Hunter, but that troubled the Captain. Hunters worked in pairs, that was why he had ordered the MG team to deploy on the road.
       Something had to be done. "Grenadier!"
       Two men of the heavy weapons section nodded towards the back where the Captain was, turned around, and nodded at their Captain. "You two on me," he backtracked to his orginal position and found Lieutenant Potter barking at his Marines. He knelt next to him and nodded. "Smoke the road," he said catching his breath. "Cross it, I want it to believe that we are going to flank it."
       "Aye sir, but what are we goanna do?"
       "You heard the booms far away?"
       "Yes sir."
       "I'm goanna make it fall on the armor's sights."
       The Lieutenant pulled a smoker from his harness, pulled the pin and lobbed it on the middle of the road. The smoke began to increase rapidly and the Lieutenant shouted, "Go, go, go!"
       A squad of Marines crossed the road, and the Captain turned to his grenadiers. "Now!" both fired their bellow-the-barrel grenade launchers at the beast and two gray explosions erupted on the creatures armor, harmlessly.
       The creature peeked for a second above his shield and saw the Marines attempting to flank him. The hunters were proud creatures, it would not allow filthy beasts to try to sidetrack him.
       It stood tall, and began to run across the road, the Marine's shooting at it harmlessly. Now it was time for Marcus to act. He stood up and shouted, "Now Marines, Marine Line, retreat, retreat, retreat!" The Marines began to stand up making a semi-about face, and ran across the ditch downwards and passed them by and ran across the ditch down. They all thought the retreat was for real, but in Marcus mind it was just a bluff.
       After the Marines retreated one hundred meters he jumped to the middle of the road, aimed his MA5B at the beast and pulled the trigger. Now, his plan was working, the hunter was confused. A flanking run and a fake retreat? Now he had a single vermin engaging him in open combat, he could not allow that to happen.
       He lowered his shield and arm, looked up and lat out a holler that quieted the popping sound of rifles going off.
       He charged the vermin. He ran across the road and what he expected came true. The human cowardly ran away from him.
       Marcus knew the beast would eventually caught up with him, but not that day. Suddenly he heard the shell traveling through the air, cutting the air making it sound like a whiz. He jumped towards the pavement, rolled and watched the sixty millimeter shells struck the hunter several times, the hundreds of APFSDS rounds touring through its armor splashing the rear of the beast with a orange fluid.

The Combat engineers watched the tenacity of the Jarhead as he lured the beast to the exact spot where the entire MFV company could fire on it. "That guy has some balls."
       Magallanes was too amazed, so amazed he had left his MFV, jogged two hundred meters towards the engineering section to see what the hell was the holdup, there a meeting of NCOs was taking place behind the relative protection of the APC.
       "Ten hut," said a random Jarhead making everyone snap into attention.
       "At ease," ordered Magallanes as he entered the circle. "What have you guys been doing that was so important that has my entire Battalion in place."
       "The minefield is a bitch," said Corporal Jeremy. "We have bouncers, heaters and boilers, there is no way we can keep the schedule on time."
       The Major looked at his wristwatch and said, "you have ten minutes, I say we blow up the whole damn thing and get it over, fuck the fancy shit."
       "Sir, with all do respect we could set up the whole field with explosives and it wouldn't do a thing."
       "How so?"
       "Covenant mines are smart, they wont go of unless an actual UNSC vehicle rolls over it."
       "I want solutions, not problems corporal."
       "UNSC has mine clearing gear that would be effective in our current situation but, we don't have the time nor the gear we axly need."
       "Go on."
       The Corporal smiled. "The theory is that one of its means of activation is by vehicles with UNSC transponders, those we use to avoid friendly fire. They have laser triggered mines, pressure triggers and so on." Magallanes remained still. "Sir, aircraft have the same transponders that we have, why not give it a shot with a low flyby?"
       "It could work, sir," said Staff Sergeant Martha Robinson. "We have a worked that theory since Harvest, but it has never been proven, nor tried."
       "Goddamn it!" barked Magallanes. "Great thinking Marine, now lets get the flybloys into the suck."
       "Thank you sir," noted the Marine with a nod. "The problem is that with our communications jammed there is no way we can reach HQ to as for the air."
       Magallanes rubbed his chin. "Yeah and most of the air is tasked out of the atmosphere." He pondered the thought for a second. "OK, you guys earned it, go back to clicks and try to reach HQ, the tanks are inbound."

The five officers of the Company, one NCO and two Marines sat in the ditch on the left side of the road that was designated as the choke point of the operation. With the Hunter down, Marcus had taken the opportunity to deploy his men on a more defensible position, a triangular shaped perimeter. Two platoon on either side of the road while the first platoon, the Heavy Weapons section and the MG teams covered the turn where the beast had appeared. "That was close, they underestimated us but we did it right."
       "Great job Skipper," said Lieutenant Potter.
       "They underestimated us," Marcus noted in disbelief. "So now they will come in full gear."
       "What do we do?" asked the first sergeant.
       "We wait, adjust and…"
       "Kick ass," bellowed the three platoon commanders at unison.
       "I have taught you-" suddenly several machineguns barked at unison, far, far away. "That was certainly not incoming."
       "That was far away, a dozen MA5Bs, two clicks or so away."
       "How do you know that first sergeant?"
       "Twenty years in the corps, I think I know a thing or two."