Posted By: Andres<email@example.com>
Date: 16 November 2007, 10:05 am
All the rigors of training, the horrors of combat and the hardships of life could not prepare a man, any man, to see these kinds of horrors. The Gunnery Sergeant coughed, silently, over the pool of vomit that laid just bellow his chin. It was enough, he thought as he closed his eyelids. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and then crawled back down the slope to find his Lieutenant kneeling next to another man, holding an auricular in his right hand and against his cheek.
"Variable six, say again, messy thing down here, requesting backup again." The man stayed still, heard two inaudible responses and replied with a brief and sad, "Roger."
The young team leader threw the handmike away, nobody in OCS had warned him of what could happen in the front, he never dreamed of it. "Fifteen more minutes," said Lieutenant Savarese and the five men around the man shrugged, grunted and looked away.
Gunnery Sergeant Nuñez looked over his back, towards the sounds of horrors, not battle, over the side of the hill. Not unlike his brethren this Brute was a savage and cruel motherfucker. It took its time, slowly surrounding the village; no one was to escape the coming massacre. Once everything was in place, they bombarded it. The fuel rods landed randomly over the brown stone houses, killing people, entire families, on their beds. The Militia guys that were around did not have a chance, Jackal snipers had time to zero in, they killed them all, even the ones that were unarmed and then they double tapped them, no filth was allowed to live.
As the villagers got out of their homes, the Jackals took down the men and then, without waiting for anything else, all the bastards moved in. Again, they took their time, performing unspeakable acts of horror on the survivors. They separated the children from their moms, stashed them up in city hall and then they did stuff to the mothers a butcher might do to a beef if he had a bad day.
If it was anything the Grunts and Jackals loved, it was the taste of fresh meat. The savages were on day two of their party, on a town which had ten thousand inhabitants, and they still were taking it slow. The CP was on the square, weapon and COM crates were scattered across the stone steps that was the plaza that surrounded a statue of Saint Joseph.
After the Jackals coned every inch of the town, they locked up the survivors inside the tallest building in the city, City Hall. After certain time individual Brutes would appear on the square and bark at the lesser creatures that guarded the place. Asking for their pick of who to kill next.
Three years into the war, facing the Covenant on nine different worlds, had not prepared him for this. He had heard about it and thought it to be a legend. Death and battle had been his only constant companion, and even his battletested stomach could not handle the genocide taking place on the town of Saint Joseph.
"Gunny," called the Lieutenant. "Dwight has been on overwatch for the last hour, can you relieve him?"
Ricardo nodded, and then ran back up the hill, then ten meters to the right towards a tall tree. Blended perfectly in the foliage was Lance Corporal Dwight Penzini, his long SRS99C festooned with leaves just as his body sized ghillie suit. "Hey Dwight."
The man took his time to grunt back, his body inert as his eyes peered through his scope. Any Navy Medic in a hospital would call this man as "under extreme Battle Fatigue, immediate unrestricted bed rest recommended." He could not see his eyes, not even wanted to, but surely, as the death in any life, that they were out of focus, dumb down and fixed on something that could only be seen by him. A mile long stare or so some of the people that did not have it called that sad gaze.
"You've been up there far too long, how about some rest Marine?"
Dwight did not move nor flinch. He kept sighting down towards the village. "Aye sir," he replied after some time, more to acknowledged the order than anything else.
The man jumped down after hanging his rifle over his back. Ricardo held him in front of him before he made his way down the slope, grabbing him tightly by the shoulders. "Hey, you stay cool," he handed over him his last remaining Field Dessert Package, a greedy man's MRE. "Have a treat pal, you earned it."
Carnage was different, not like on the displays back home shown to motivate the men for the war. The smell, that awful true horror of war was the worst thing on the battlefield. The rotten smell of flesh could wake, ironically, the dead. He settled down on the branch, laid down above it like over Mongoose ATV, extending his BR.55 over the village, a perfect one hundred and eighty degree field of view lay before him, nothing else to see but the horrors in the village on the center of the valley.
He knew something terrible was about to happen before his eyes found that Brute. It approached City Hall, all the Grunts, around twenty, that guarded that building of the damned stepped back in complete panic, something unusual to show, even for a Grunt, before a Brute Minor. As a Recon Marine he had had the extraordinary chance to see the Covenant in detail for a long period of times. All of the individual species, like Humans, had a very discernable commonality in their gaits.
After a dozen surveillance missions on the ground he had seen Brutes awfully often, he had learned the way they walked, ate and breathed uncommonly well for a Marine. This one was a rare Brute. It was old, white streaks extended on its brown fur, yet it wore a battered Minor armor and a Gravity Hammer, not the traits of a Minor. They were usually young, handled Spikers, Rifles and Carbines and their armor was untouched.
It barked at a nearby Grunt, which after shuddering made its way to the City Hall and fanned out with something small on its claws. The Gunny inhaled, and then looked down holding vomit in his body. A small redheaded, freckled face girl with pigtails kicked and screamed in horror as she tried to escape the inevitable. Every child's worst nightmare came true the night the Covenant came.
For the Grunts it was all a game, they tossed the little girl around as it begged for her life in a language that was as filthy as the bloodied floor beneath them. The Brute roared, the Grunts straightened and then bowed. Ricardo watched the whole thing from his scope and thoughts that must never cross a man's mind spun around. With a silenced shot the little girl would not suffer nor see what was about to happen to her, no man of honor, hell, any man would think that in any situation. God, please no, I beg of you, he thought as his salty water began to pour out of his eyes. After a bow the filthy little vermin, proud in its new scarlet armor, presented the gift to his Master.
What could a man do? Orders were clear, "eyes only - weapons hold," and even if he had the balls to do the right thing, seven Marines, no matter how well equipped and trained as they were, could take on a reinforced Covenant company lead by the most sadistic beasts in the universe, the Brutes.
His finger exited the triggerguard as a man would leave as a sports team would leave an unfinished no win game, ashamed. As he forfeited the child's life he cursed himself in his mind. Most people, hell, all people who joined the UNSC to fight the Covenant did it to save mankind, but rarely did one joined to save humanity. He had done it so, join to save the spirit that all good humans had, honor, charity and compassion. Everything that was happening there might save seven trained men to fight another day but, certainly, it killed the humanity every man is born with. These were the kinds of horrors the Covenant, and humanity had brought down, hell, on themselves. Mankind had always been at the top of the food chain. Man had erased complete species from history, maybe somehow karma had caught up, and mankind's time had come. Who knew, sometimes and for some all the times, people questioned God's master plan. Some thought, after the arrival of the Covenant, that there was none. "Goddamn," he whispered.
Goddamn ROEs. The UNSC was starting to get short on trained men, and they would not risk them, even seven trained Recon types, for some civvies. He blinked long enough for the Brute to place the child in front of his face, showing its fangs on the girl which screamed as loud as an incoming arty shell, it was horrible to witness and worst to hear. The Gunney, tangled up in the tree prayed, at and for something, to silence what was happening on the fields bellow. God, if anything, answered but not in something holly but rather a man made event.
A shot echoed in the valley, seemingly silencing everything and the Brute's head exploded like a watermelon under pressure.
The ammo counter above the receiver still showed a bright blue 36, and his finger was still outside the guard. He didn't shoot, somebody else did. Ten meters to his left a knelt Lance Corporal Dwight Penzini, a massive shell casing flew out of the chamber of his SRS. Thank God