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Riverside Party: Chapter 1
Posted By: Dagorath<hoyinshan@gmail.com>
Date: 13 July 2005, 5:06 am

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The three Phantoms swooped through the dusky sky, their purple colour blending in with the gold and orange of the sunset.
      Underneath, a sprawling city basked in the warmth. Thousands of lights twinkled in the soft glow, giving the city an appearance of some sleepy animal, at peace with its surroundings.
      The Phantoms flew lower down, gliding past office windows and the balconies of apartment blocks. Their occupants might have mistaken them for large shadows. But instead, they were like watchful angels, noticing everything, gliding with an alien grace. However, when they reached a large rotary, they were revealed for what they truly were.
      Birds of prey.
      The Phantoms fired indiscriminately at cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians alike, blowing the startled humans off the road and scorching the tarmac. However, they were careful not to fire upon an oil tanker lumbering along. The explosion could cause unnecessary damage to the roads, rendering them impassable.
      They also took great care not to harm the grass and shrubs growing on the centre of the rotary. The Covenant, it seemed, had great regard for natural life, though no consideration whatsoever for human existence.
      They first dropped their attached vehicles gently onto the rotary while simultaneously wreaking havoc on the cars and a lone Warthog which had come to investigate, blowing fuel tanks apart, incinerating occupants, and blocking the roads. After depositing the Wraith tank, Shadow transport and pair of Spectres they were carrying, the Phantoms disgorged their occupants: mostly Elite-Grunt teams, with four specially commissioned Hunters and a small contingent of reserve Honour Guards in grey armour instead of their ceremonial gold and red, wielding energy swords.
      An Elite in gold armour strode to the front of the ensemble, planting his fists at his sides. Muscles rippled and light gleamed off his armour plates. The elaborate helmet gave him the image of a savage beast.
       "Our orders are to completely obliterate the human resistance in this city, making a direct strike at their centre of government to the west of here. The Phantoms will support you but the humans must be hounded from their anti-aircraft guns or we will risk failure. And failure is not an option."
      He scowled darkly at three Warthogs racing towards them, firing at the blockades of ruined cars with their feeble ballistics.
       "Move, you heretics!" he yelled, jumping back onto one of the Phantoms.
      The Covenant forces jumped onto the vehicles, smashing through the rubble towards the Warthogs. Three powerful blasts from the Wraith were enough to obliterate them.

In the Phantom, the gold Elite watched as his forces smashed forcibly towards the tall tower that was the humans' centre of government. It would have been an option to fly his forces directly to the tower, but the humans' turrets would have ripped them to shreds. The humans were better shots than they had a right to be.
      Faced against infantry and vehicles, however, the turrets were much weaker. The Elite watched as the Wraith blew turrets off the road, the infantry suppressed the foolhardy humans, and the Hunters simply strode past all of the carnage, blowing obstacles to smithereens. The paltry bullets the humans fired in resistance simply pinged off their armour.
      There was something rather worrying, however. While most of the Elites fought face on, the Honour Guards crept up behind the humans and sliced them apart in cowardly sneak attacks from the back. The Honour Guards, it seemed, were completely without honour.
      Still, to the gold Elite, the results justified the means. He watched his forces smashing their way forwards with a tinge of pride, but also a rather uneasy feeling.

The uneasy feeling was confirmed as they approached a long bridge crossing a wide river. Human resistance was small, but the bridge was too exposed.
      A juddering roar made the gold Elite sit up and stare harder at the screen in front of him. To his dismay, he saw two Scorpion tanks rumble out from the opposite end of the bridge, followed by five Warthogs and a crowd of yelling humans, not in armour but firing with the spirit of an Elite.
      He frowned. He could deal with them. Scowling, he directed the gunners to fire on the tanks.
      It was difficult, however. The crowd seemed to be in an insane rage, and fought with the strength of three. He actually saw several jump on an Elite and literally pummel him to the ground. Grunts were fleeing with high, shrill cries, and the Scorpion tanks razed them down with machine guns.
      It was the Honour Guards who saved the day, slicing the manic humans apart and sticking grenades onto the Warthogs. However, the explosions caused tremendous loss of life on both sides.
      A few minutes later, it was almost over. The Warthogs were obliterated, the tanks blasted apart, and the crowd lay in splatters of blood. Only a few Marines played hide-and-seek with his remaining forces.
      The humans had one last surprise in store. To a whining drone and a deep rumble, one of the humans' sea frigates sailed upstream. Its enormous cannons were pointed at the Phantoms.
      He gave an inadvertent gasp. Those cannons would blow them to pieces! Already, one Phantom had been shot down, and now it rained down in scorched pieces over the bridge. All the firing from the Wraith and Hunters did no damage at all to the frigate's alloy hull.
       "Retreat!" yelled the gold Elite. "Retreat, by the gods! Retreat!"
      In anger and frustration, he watched his forces pile onto the remaining vehicles (one Spectre had been destroyed by the Scorpion tanks) and speed back where they had come, as his two remaining Phantoms too made a tactical retreat.
      The frigate blew a hole in the bridge, sending their Wraith tumbling back into the murky water. As his remaining forces rushed back into the comparative safety of the shore side buildings, a glancing mortar flipped the other Phantom onto the side of a building. It lost control and slid down the length of the skyscraper, falling with a sickening thud onto the tarmac.
      Inside the last remaining Phantom, the gold Elite grabbed his armoured head and banged it hard against the sides, giving a low wail of anger and hatred. How could he not have expected one of the humans' ships to assist in the defense of the city? Probably because High Charity had no rivers, and the Covenant had long since dispensed with water transport.
      There was no way he could take on that frigate with his remaining forces. From the scans he was now hurriedly making, it showed that the frigate was riding low in the water, probably filled up with more of those damnable mortar shells.
      In a loud voice, he let loose a long string of curses, first cursing the humans' mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, ancestors and gods for allowing them to have so much intelligence, then a string of curses at his own mother, father, sister, brother, ancestors and gods for making him face such an embarrassing defeat.
      Two Longsword fighter-bombers swooped out of the now-dark sky, making for his direction. He now realized what the city truly was: a sleeping giant.
      Obscene broadcasts from the frigate rang out jovially from his receptors in the heathens' foul tongue. He could hear them echoing around the Phantom. No doubt his pilot and gunners would hear, and laugh at him.
      It was the last straw. Speaking to a hidden microphone, the gold Elite moaned, "Send in the Spec Ops."