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The Mother of all Battles: Prologe
Posted By: Andres<andres_vera2000@yahoo.com>
Date: 8 December 2006, 2:13 am

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            The Mother of All Battles, Redux.

0012, January 20, 2536 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Lira System, UNSC Inner Colony Controlled Space

Though he had never met or even seen him, he loved him and. specially, what he did. He had only heard him through the static that hindered the radios, his callsing was "Rapier Six," and again, he was doing his job. The sonic boom came after the barrage, the awful loud sequence of explosions of a pair of one-one-oh millimeter cannon of a C709 Longsword, which decimated a hill, forever changing its democracy.
      Some bastard once told him at boot camp that the only thing wrong with been a Marine was that you had to share time with sailors. Well, after two months on the god forsaken rock he had learned the opposite, the bastards Rapier Six waxed with every call he made to the fleet, or from wherever the daily Longsword came.
      Rapier six was somewhere on the village, hidden in one of the buildings from the endless incoming fire from the prairies that surrounded the small town. It was undeniably frustrating, the way the plasma fire came in, and to far away for the return fire to work, every day hurting one of his men. Though, there was Rapier Six, calling on one of the sources of fire a daily air strike.
      The caved-in roof provided a small OP for the Troopers that pulled security on his command post, the far end of the mile long town of Dawn-3, one of the four towns surrounding the City of Moonstar. The restlessness had long gone, and the main feeling in his guts and heart, was by far, depression. He had been in desperate situations before; especially when dealing with the Covenant, but never like this, and the worst part was that his men knew it and felt it too. They knew, in their tired minds, that no matter what they did the Company would never leave the planet.
      When he had seen the world for the first time it had been beautiful, a rock filled with beautiful prairies, farms, and by far, sky-blue lakes and beautiful modern cities. Two months later it all had changed. The whole rock –nickname the Marines gave sentenced planets- turned to a forest-fire, lakes disappearing at once and oceans flooding the continents, it turned to a calamity even then.
      The Covenant troops invaded the planet, attacking the airfields and silos in one blow. The slaughter and destruction that ensued was worst than biblical proportions. Now, only a few bastions of resistance remained and the planet, mostly in built-up-areas, like the town, the Company of Helljumpers was stationed. Those were the only thing keeping the planet from an abrupt, horrible end.
      After the first punch, the slaughter began. Scattered civilians, families together, began to pour out of the cities, no matter what the Marines and National Guard said they bypassed them, ignoring the warnings that they gave them, urging them to stay in cities where they would be safer than on the wild.
      Now, only a free fire zone between the Covenant and the humans remained, in both space and earth. The fate of the planet remained uncertain, after over a thousand ships from both sides engaged in battle. The only thing that remained was an endless battle.
      As the night settled in Captain Ricardo Nunez, walked to the OP out from the safety of the tree-floors Department Store, his rifle swung across his back and helmet strapless on his chin. He walked to the MG nest on the caved-in roof. He looked at the horizon, there flashes of the battle could be seen. Small explosions that lifted a blanket of light on the dark horizon, the massive blasts on the ground seemingly small from the Helljumpers position, thanks to the small bangs that followed them.
       "Sir, how long are we goanna wait till we go to the battle?"
       "You want more?" The PFC quieted. The Company, his Company, had lost thirty two men in battle during the previous months. "Well, I for one I'm happy not to be in Moonstar just yet."
       "When do you want to be there, sir?"
       Ricardo smiled, "when we win this thing."
       The soldier gave a faint, confident smirk. As an officer it was part of his gig to maintain moral, which directly led to discipline, and the last time he checked, morale wasn't on Humanity's side. It was a fact that most civilians, those who built the weapons and breed soldiers, had lost confidence on the UNSC capabilities to defeat the Covenant decisively.
       With all those feelings, exhausted and fully armored Ricardo lied down a rug inside the CP. For a second he thought he had just dozed off for while, but suddenly there was sunlight entering through the holes in the roof. He rubbed his eyes still lie down when a gun fired, he immediately found himself sighing. Another round wasted and the Covenant was back online against the town.
       "Contact-Contact!" shouted an armed Marine at the CP. "In-coming."
       Ricardo rolled over and went back to sleep. This happened daily and several times at that. It was a two month long routine that was tiresome at best. The troopers were used to it, the sight of a long, purple beam that streaked towards the town, too far away for the BRs to work.
      The firefight wasn't news to the Captain until he felt a very familiar thud underneath the floor. He grabbed his battle rifle by the sight, pulled the charging handle and stood up in a second. He immediately walked out to the OP where three troopers were facing south. Just as he had predicted, an increasing, whizzing sound could be heard down the road.
       Maybe he had been on the rock for far too long, and his ears were deceiving him. He couldn't tell, but either way, if he was right or wrong, he wasn't a bit excited. Al around the town he could see his Marines moving towards their windows, covering their sectors. "Goddamn Scorpions"
       "A relief force."
       "In this war, Paxton, there is no relief," noted Ricardo as he lifted his binoculars. Suddenly a incredibly loud boom and a plume of dirt lifted on the prairies.
       "Woo!" bellowed one of the troopers as the first square shaped, nosed cylindrical turret appeared behind the slopped road. "Go for it!" said the trooper before one of the turret swung in their direction. "Shit."
       The Captain remained still, looking with his binoculars. At that point he didn't know if it was pure apathy or sheer exhaustion. He wasn't afraid to die, though he didn't want to, yet his actions were nearly suicidal. He braced for the impact and the tank turret swung backwards.
       "Cap'n," said one of the troopers who went inside the part of the second floor caved-in roof. "You OK?"
       "Never been better in my life," said the Helljumper who gave a friendly wave at the tanks. "Beautiful ain't they."
       "Guess so, sir," said the Marine as he entered the Caved in roof. "Why didn't you move, sir?"
       "I'm way too tired," Ricardo noted as he left the OP towards the inside of the house. He pondered to what an armored column might be doing in the town. Maybe it was a relief force. Maybe there was still hope, and everything wasn't lost. Lastly he did something none in his squad had ever done before. Rifle hanging on his shoulder, he exited the house through the main door. And, like if he hadn't breathed before, he took a deep, suck of air. His fears vanishing away.
       "Sir," said Paxton who had silently followed him downstairs. "Are you insane!" he shouted, kneeling by the open door with his rifle out, covering his CO who didn't listen.
       He began to walk towards the tank, making Paxton follow him, rifle shouldered and stuck to the wall as he moved behind his commanding officer. The Scorpion entered the road that led into the T intersection of the town and slowly the hatch opened. A helmet, with broad earmuffs popped up, and a hand waved. Ricardo waved back and stood out of the way of the tank just as he nearly rolled over him.
      The vehicle held fast next to the Captain and the helmet now had a face. "Good morning sir," said a Lieutenant. "Isn't it a bit dangerous to stand in the open in here, we were briefed that sniper activity was but dangerous here."
       "Yeah, what are you goanna do?" noted fearlessly Ricardo as he climbed the right track of the tank. "Who-you-with?"
       "Task Force Reach, a whole load of units, sir, both U-N-S-C and territorial guard." Ricardo reached out his hand towards the Lieutenant who took it.
       "I have one remaining cup of Joe, do you want it?" the Lieutenant nodded and with Ricardo's help, he got out of the hatch, standing on top of his tank.

He had ended on the rock as a refugee from a Covenant hammering to the fleet. He and two other crews had made it of the UNSC Tasmania after it had been destroyed by a Covenant Blue Whale class destroyer. The Pelican landed on the closest airfield and then a new stage of the war had begun for him.
       For two weeks orbital MACs, planetary Archer and nuclear silos had engaged the Covenant. It had turned into a stalemate as all the orbital MAC stations had been destroyed and the Alien fleet badly mauled, the Covenant decided to invade, and as always it had been brutal.
       He had seen the terrible toll to the populace through his FLIR –Forward Looking Infrared Device- as the Covenant piled on carcasses one, over the other –and so on- on the mayor population centers. It made the generally impersonal air combat more personal than ever, if there was such a thing.
       When men faced each other in war, it was about killing machines. Now it was about killing vermin, a filth that infected humanity. A cancer that had to be removed. For him, it was no longer about saving humanity, it was about making the Covenant pay, and he had done so taking out twenty two aircrafts including three Seraphs.
       Lieutenant Tyrone Jeremy grabbed the helmet on the table in front of him just before the air raid alarm blasted through the base. He was running on the tarmac where his C709 was prepped and ready. As he ran, the entire base shifted into movement. The Marines went for an air defense batteries and the non-combat personal grabbed small arms to protect their stations.
       Only twelve Longswords were prepped and ready for battle, as the long war and the cut-off from the outside and the spare parts were scarce and pilots were needed. Specially in air station sixteen. Around the massive Longsword the grown crew removed the safety caps from both the one-one-oh millimeter cannons, and running upwards was his WSO –Weapons Specialist Officer- a young woman fresh from the local academy.
       "She's good-t-go sir," said the Crew Chief as he strutted down the ramp passing the Lieutenant by. He passed by the two passenger-radar operator seats and slid into the Pilot's seat, and locked his helmet on place. In less than ten seconds he was on standby on the nose of the runway.
       "Papa lead, contact with bogeys southeast bull's-eye, low, tracking-west, cleared for takeoff."
       The pilot didn't respond, he simply hammered the throttle down and several tons of thrust exited the nozzles at the rear of the aircraft. Immediately a shock wave hammered the cabin. It had been a long, terrible war.
       "Roger control, we are on," said the copilot into her headset. "You OK?"
       Tyrone made her quiet by pulling on the stick towards him, seven gees straining their muscles and bones immediately. "Fucking great," he said as the plane reached a steady climb.
       Immediately, as green dots appeared on the radar, several electronic beeps sounded on his helmet. "Contact bandits, angels one-oh-nine, range…" paused the Copilot as the plane jumped by itself on the air "…two thousand, maybe even more, they sure are jamming."
       "Roger Papa lead," said the wingman just bellow and to the right side.
       "How many bandits?" asked Tyrone.
       "Twenty, for the looks of it looks like a combination of Seraphs and Banshees, jam them back?"
       "Read my mind," said Jeremy. "Though it never works."
       "Papa lead, division two here, what do you want us to do."
       "Pincer low, get the Banshees, we'll get the escorts."
       "Same stuff, different day-" said the Copilot, a second before the warning systems inside the cockpit picked the locked on radar waves from the lead Seraph. "Jamming is not working," she said as she began to tap switches above her head, making the radio transmitter on his head go off.
       "Papa lead, time to intercept one minute-"
       "Everyone, break! Break!" shouted Jeremy as he spotted several green specks on the horizon of his broad cockpit. As always the Radar Warning Receivers failed to pick the launch of the plasma torpedoes against his fighter. He immediately pressed two buttons on his joystick and a dozen chaffs and flares left the rear of his contrail-covered aircraft as it banked right. It was too late, and he knew it.
       He felt two thuds as two plasma torpedoes found their mark. The plasma torpedoes found Papa two and four after they cut right through the clusters of flares and chaffs. There were no maydays, there were no warnings. Only dead pilots.
       "Control, Papa one! Give me a picture!" asked Jeremy, all bravado and fearlessness washed down as four more friends turned into a fireball.
       "Papa one, four Sierras, should be due east of you, level and break left, you should see them coming straight for you."
       The Lieutenant leveled his Longsword and banked a few degrees left when he heard the screeches and saw a small teardrop overshoot his plane. The Copilot immediately locked the Infrared Cameras onto it. "Seven O'clock!" The Seraph did a nearly a tight turn in the air and immediately found itself pointing at the Lieutenant. "Oh, oh."
       He immediately dived the aircraft into a near-nose-down fall. "Oh my god!" bellowed the co-pilot. "Moving from seven to six and high, break, break!"
       "Roger," said Jeremy without many choice, as the bleak ground was just a few seconds away. He pulled on the stick and switched the spoilers down, the plane slowly leveling and slowly raising the nose. Just as he had expected the Covenant pilot had preformed textbook-like. He had followed the pilot directly into the controlled dive.
       "He's coming in ballistic!" shouted Jeremy to the passed out copilot. The radar locked, the computer calculated the ballistic solution and he pulled the trigger, the gatling 110mm roaring in the sky. The expend propellant disappearing the Longsword in a cloud of white gasses.

The falling wreckage of the Seraph was another cause for celebration. The Marines cheered as the Longsword made a victory loop over the town, climbing, and disappearing on the horizon. Ricardo felt for the first time in many months a sense of relief.
       Lieutenant Crane found the inside of the CP warm and welcoming, obviously none of the troopers who had endured two months inside it understood why. On the one of the four corners of the room Ricardo took from his jump-bag the last bag of coffee –which had a self brewing feature- and poured into a cup from the bottom of his canteen. The Lieutenant then proceeded to ask what had happened to the radios.
       "I thought you might know," replied Ricardo, who then asked a SITREP from the Lieutenant.
       Crane then proceeded to tell a daunting story, horrible in every way possible, which yet ignited the flame of hope on Ricardo's soul. Humanity was loosing the war, taking a scaled retreat across the galaxy from the Covenant's onslaught –which much he already knew- hoping to outlast the alien's never-ending anger. Yet something big was in movement, against the Covenant.
       Outside the atmosphere conditions were terrible. After a thousand ships from both sides engaged in battle and no victor emerging, the whole focus of the Campaign had switched to the ground of Moonwind, and the situation there could not be worst, literally –according to the Lieutenant-.
       "So," said the Captain. "What now?"
       The following twenty words out of Crane's mouth were unbelievable and they took but a while to sink in. Counterattack, last stand, victory-possible were all included in the little speech. He ended the charade with the phrase, "a whole division is going to be passing by this town tomorrow."
       "An entire division Lieutenant?" asked Ricardo, sarcasm was the note on his voice. "Those guys in the city are going down."
       "Captain, that is just tomorrow, an entire MEF is goanna roll through here," noted Crane, unhappy about the Captain's response.
       "How is the situation in the city anyway?"
       "Horrible," noted the Lieutenant. "It is literally a pile of rubble, the Covenant holds the eastern side, and we the western side."
       "Do you know what happened to the rest of our unit?"
       "Yo! Captain!" screamed 1st Lieutenant Peter Woods at the door. "Long fucking time no see."
       "Woods!" shouted Ricardo snapping to his feet. "How is that goddamn shack of yours doing?"
       "It gets comfy after the first month or so."
       "Roger" said Ricardo, grabbing his XO forearm in an awkward armshake. "This sucks too."
       "Where are we rolling now?"
       "I have no idea."
       "Incoming!" bellowed the sentry on the OP on the second floor of the house. The Captain slightly crouched and braced for the shockwave. It was slight, it felt as it had been far away. They all knew what was going on, incoming A-T.
       "They are going to adjust!" shouted Ricardo as he headed towards the basement, a small orchard door that led into a small cellar. The Captain stood by the entrance to the flight of stairs waving the Marines in as they passed by.
       In the last few months he had gotten to know Covenant artillery very well, up close and personal. The barrages started ironically with a single, barrage. If he had to guess as he dropped through the stairs towards the cellar he thought the Covenant artillery relied on manual adjust rather than a high-tech computer.
       Somewhere around the town was a forward observer laying eyes on the Helljumpers, directing the artillery on the crossroads-town. Plasma spheres landing randomly in a very tight killbox. The shelling ended as abruptly as it had started.
       "Holy shit, they are going to try an overrun us!" shouted Woods as soon as the last tremor was unfelt, the trooper was amused to say the least. "Get some!" he shouted, leading the way out of the cellar, as the Helljumpers charged up the cellar to their battle positions.
       The battle started before Ricardo could get into the fight. Around the town rifle fire began to erupt, the lead going for the horde of charging Grunts. Ricardo found a suitable window on the first floor and bellowed, "Net-call, Net-call, check in, over?"
       But after he could get a reply a brick struck him in the head, and it took him a while to figure out why. The last thing he had seen was a bright flash. Then, slowly he reconstructed the entire picture, the incoming whistle, the dirt cloud and the brick. The Covenant had hit directly into one of the houses.
       "Captain!" shouted Woods running towards him, kneeling right next to the knocked out man. He checked the pulse and felt two small thuds on his index finger. "Net-call, this is Outlaw two, taking command," he was stopped cold by a firm grasp on his hand.
       "You think you can get in charge of my company?"
       Woods chuckled, "No goddamn way boss."
       Ricardo crouched, gripping his close-by BR by the sight. He immediately jumped to his feet and watched through the window. On the prairie that remained on the opening two tall, bulky figures were delineated by the Captain. "Eyeball, two tangos coming in fast, center street, north, over?"

Chief Petty Officer James "Eyeball" Moore felt the two taps on his right shoulder. "It's the skipper," said the spotter, "we got big boys coming in the right side of the house."
       Moore smiled, "Get some," he lifted the 20mm sniper rifle from the frame of a window and turned right, still crouched, and followed the spotter towards the window. He had stripped all but the armor from his battle dress uniform, so he could be like he liked to be, a silent and shadow killer, light as a feather but deadly as much he could get from his rifle.
       He reached the opposite side of the room, there the spotter was crouching with his right index finger pressing an auricular tightly into his eardrum. "Yeah, its here, lets set up."
       The sniper placed the stock of his rifle on the ground, the long rifle reaching nearly his head as he was fully standing, he extended the bipod and dropped the rifle on a large, plasma-made hole in the wall. He went prone adjusting the buttstock into his shoulder and placing his right eye a few centimeters from the large, infrared sight.
       "Eyeball, in position," said the spotter who had already began to scan the area with his battle rifle. "Right between the pair of buildings with the rubble on the center," the `eye´ reported.
       Moore remained steadfast, waiting for the figure to appear. It was all automatic. He waited for the beast to appear, which did like clockwork, and pulled the trigger when the red dot found its head. The beast's face disappeared immediately and the second Brute jumped out of sight. "Call it."
       "Eyeball, one Tango down, one remaining, over!"

Ricardo shouldered his rifle and opened a burst of lead on the Gorilla that jumped nearly one-story-high to grab a window frame, and pulled himself in. The Captain turned around and saw the tanker with his pistol just a feet behind him. "Crane, you tell your tanks to destroy that building," Ricardo panicked, "right-fucking-now!"
       The first time he had gone up toe-to-toe with a Brute he had learned the bad way that though they lacked any tactical finesse, they made up for it with sheer brutality. Crane exited the building and got into his tank which was standing right next to the house, and right in front of the Brute's new lair.
       The house imploded, sending dirt, dismantled furniture bricks in every direction. Ricardo stood back up on the window and saw six more Brutes sprinting through the fields, that could only meant one thing, an all out attack, and that was just the probe.
       He prepared to say the terrible words through the radio when suddenly the UHF spectrum was visited by the words, "Attack, attack, attack."
       Suddenly a familiar, missed, sound became audible. The eighty-one millimeter mortar struck right between the formation of chimps coming into the town, the beasts falling disoriented immediately. "Eyeball, get eyes on who is firing."
       "Friendly-friendly, south of town, two mortar teams and a shitload of infantry, over."
       "I see 'em too," called the Company First Sergeant.
       "Roger," said Ricardo, still looking outside the window.
       "Shit," said Crane over the radio. "Contact with vehicles coming in from the south, declare hostile, hostile."
       "Damn it," said Ricardo immediately ordering Woods to take his place on the window. He ordered the tanks to clear the road through the radio but by then it was too late. The Covenant "white noise" filled the radio channels and that was that, he incommunicado.
       "Shit, Woods, you sound off when you see 'em."
       Ricardo jumped out of the house to see the four tanks parked in a line next to it. "Clear the fucking road!"
       Crane, who could not hear him removed his helmet and pushed the hatch open. His head disappeared leaving a red carpet over the tank, after a row of red beams found his head. Ricardo turned around, and saw the Brute hanging over the chimney of one of the houses, aiming a plasma rifle at him.
       He raised his rifle, just out of spite, to hurt the beast as much as possible. He failed to do so. A ninety millimeter shell found the Chimney and projected the Brute out of sight. "Fucking right!"
       The first tank rolled –nearly crushing the Captain by doing so- and took a right on the T intersection.
       Ricardo reentered the house on his back. "Woods, saw that motherfucker fly?"
       "Roger," said Woods.
       "This is Rapier six, we are under attack outside of the town, on the road about a mile down towards the city, over?"
       Ricardo didn't freeze, not for a second. He raised his fist and signaled towards him, ordering the seven Marines in the room to form up on him, leaving the house on a rush. Rapier Six had always been there, now when he could help, he wasn't going to flinch.
       As he ran down the street, fearless of the snipers and Brutes, he couldn't help but wonder why Rapier six wasn't in the town. To the best of his knowledge during the retreat from the outskirts of the city his company and the Tactical Air Controllers had reached the town together. How or why, wasn't important, it was saving his savior what mattered.