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The Last Hours of Corporal Conway
Posted By: Debo<Major_Debo@hotmail.com>
Date: 22 April 2006, 11:24 pm

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2145 Hours, October 20, 2552 (Military Calendar)/
Unknown Star System, Ring Construct, "Quarantine Zone"

       Corporal James Conway sat in the passenger seat of the M12 LRV Warthog. He and his three man crew on the 'hog were en route to support Commander Keyes, Sergeant Johnson, and other Marines that had been dispatched to the Library.
       Private Murphy, the driver, feed fuel to the warthog's engine and a burst of speed sent the warthog over a hill and into yet another frozen field, littered with bodies of Covenant, Flood, and unfortunately, Marines.
       Private Golindez looked out across the field. Burning warthog chassis and overturned ghosts littered the battlefield. There was even a downed pelican a few hundred yards away.
       The three men watched the pelican smolder when the fire reached the fuel reserves and the pelican was engulfed in flame for a split second then exploded. Burning bits of debris rained down upon the surface and began to sink into the melting ice and snow.
      "Holy shit!" Murphy exclaimed. "How in the hell did this situation get so FUBAR?"
       The Corporal thought the exact same thing. Why hadn't the Commander sent in the ship's four Longswords to clear a path for Force One? Fleet Commanders running ground operations was getting to be an old and miserable way of fighting the war, and the effects of the inexperienced ground commanders were ever-present - especially now in this new and hostile environment.
      "Because Ship Captains try to run ground ops, Private. That's all." Conway replied.
      "Sir, what do we do now?" Murphy asked, hoping they could go back to the ship.
      "We do what we were ordered to: kill the enemy while making our way to the Library." Conway replied emotionless.
      "Yes, sir." Murphy replied.
       Conway was about to give the order to move forward when the gunner began pointing and saying things incoherently. The Corporal shouted at the Marine to tell what was going on, then he turned and looked at where the gunner was pointing - a group of Flood Combat forms were regrouping and were heading for the warthog.
      "Light 'em up!" Conway yelled, and sighted in an ex-Elite in the sights of his BR55. "Get us the hell out of here, Murphy!"
       The driver punched the accelerator of the M12 and turned the wheels to the left as far as they would go. The warthog did a 180 and fish-tailed out of it and headed back the way they'd came.
      "Oh shit... sir, we got some of these bastards back here chasing us. They're in one of our 'hogs!" Golindez yelled into the mike, jamming his thumbs onto the LAAG's firing buttons as hard as he could.
      "Well blow those bastards away, Private." Conway replied.
       A few dozen meters behind the Corporal and his warthog, a warthog full of Flood combat forms followed. The ex-Marine in the passenger seat hefted a laser beam weapon, one from the a fallen Sentinel, and fired at the pursued warthog.
       A beam of blinding blue light walked across the path of the leading warthog and the beam sliced through Private Golindez's torso. The Marine managed to shout a scream into his mike before dying. The beam also popped the back right tire of the vehicle.
      "Holy shit, sir!" Murphy yelled, trying to bring the warthog under control.
       The warthog lurched up a steep hill, still going almost flank speed, when an ex-Marine jumped out from behind a clutch of rocks and fired an Jackhammer rocket at the incoming warthog.
       The Private tracked the incoming rocket and dodged it, barely. The round exploded ten feet behind the warthog and sent rock and ice in every direction. The Private and Corporal both suspected that the launcher had its other tube filled with a rocket - they were right.
       The combat form hit the firing stud once again and a rocked whooshed toward the two Marines. This time, the rocket flew true and impacted on the rear of the M12.
       The warthog flew end-over-end twice before coming to a rest on its side. The Corporal and Private unlatched their safety belts and fell onto the snow. The two of them immediately took down three ex-Marines that were imminent threats, and then began salvaging few supplies from the downed warthog.
       The entire time from being hit by the rocket, gathering supplies, and making the decision to run for safety and call for evacuation was only fifty-one seconds.
       The two Marines lit out across the hardpan, back the way they had come originally. Corporal Conway remembered a few caves he'd seen a while back. Maybe they could hold up there and call for a ride.
       Private Murphy was lagging behind the Corporal. He had sustained an injury to his ankle during the warthog crash, he thought he could make it back to safety without worrying about it. Apparently, the Private had made the wrong assumption about his own injury.
      "Sir, can we stop? My ankle is killing me." Murphy said, panting and leaning on his rifle for support.
      "Ok, we'll set up came here in the middle of some freaky alien world with no backup, no food, and no extra protection. Oh yeah, and no one knows were here. Is that fine with you, Private?" Conway replied sarcastically.
      "No, sir. I wanna live." he replied.
      "Then suck it up, Marine. Because if you don't, you will be letting both of us down." Conway replied.
      "Yes, sir. Let's move out... sir." the Marine replied.
       The Marines continued to backtrack until they came to the place that would provide them with some safety and security - caves. The two of them went inside and scoped out the cave and found the body of Helljumper, still in his black armor. The chest plate had a small hole in it over the spot where the lungs are supposed to be, about the size of a quarter, the ODST was the victim of a sniper.
       They took his ammo, radio, and combat tools. The two Marines were about to set up came for the night when something caught the attention of Private Murphy
      "Hey, you hear that?" Murphy asked.
       The Corporal stopped moving and strained to listen. The sound of rumbling could be heard, with the whine of tracks being grinded together - a Scorpion Tank was nearby.
      "Private, let's get the hell out of here." Conway exclaimed, smiling a toothy grin.
       The two Marines ran back to the entrance of the cave. There, in the distance, a Scorpion tanks emerged from a clutch of boulders and crept toward the Marines position.
       Conway raised his binoculars and peered through them. The tank was smoking and flames could be seen surrounding the engine housing. The tank had to have been in some heavy combat to sustain those damages.
      "Sir, should be pop smoke?" Murphy asked.
      "Sure, pop yellow smoke and then get back inside the cave. We still don't know who runs that tank, it could be the flood. Most likely thought, it's one of our comrades." Conway replied, then handed the Private the blue smoke canister.
       Murphy pulled the pin and rolled the smoke grenade a few yards. It began puffing out yellow smoke - and caught the attention of the tank's driver.
       The last thing Murphy saw a flash of fire from the cannon of the tank, then nothing.
       A round from the main cannon of the Scorpion landed two meters away from Private Murphy. A huge crater was the only thing that remained for ten feet from the impact center.
       Corporal Conway was paralyzed with fear. The only thing that kept him from being killed in the blast was the fact that he had been, luckily, crouching behind a rock to steady his binoculars. He had to snap of it. He had to get back to the cave, a place that the tank could never travel.
       The tank rumbled toward the position of Conway. He had to do something before the tank arrived. He had to make an escape without being seen. A plan formed in his mind: there was a small ridge with a dip just before it between the tank and his position, when the tank hit the dip, it would disappear from view for a few seconds. It might be just long enough to make it the cave.
       He timed it just right. As soon as the tank fell from view, the Corporal ran like a mad-man for the cave. He felt his heart pumping and firing like a LAAG on a warthog. His adrenaline was so high that he hardly noticed that the tank was taking pot-shots at him with the Coaxial machine gun.
       Conway made it to the cave and fell down to his knees after a few steps in. A loud explosion shook the cavern, and the entrance way to the cave became blocked with large pieces of ice, rock, and debris.
       Then, the realization set in - Conway was trapped, by himself, in a hostile environment, with no way of escape that he knew of.
       Conway walked over to the dead ODST and sat down beside the body. He broke out a package chemical glow sticks and sat four of them around him for light. He slid down on his side and fell asleep.

2357 Hours, October 20, 2552 (Military Calendar)/
Unknown Star System, Ring Construct, "Quarantine Zone"

       Corporal Conway awoke to the sound of slithery, sucking, wet noise that reverberated off the walls of the cavern. He knew the sound: Flood forms. He had to find a way out of here, and fast.
       The noncom picked up his supplies and began moving slowly through the cave. He moved carefully and always kept his helmet light on and threw glow sticks forward to illuminate the area he was approaching.
       A scream, and the sound of gunfire filled the cavern ahead of him. He saw muzzle flashes and heard the pleas for help from fellow Marines. He ran ahead, disregarding his own safety and came into an amphitheater of sorts.
       A few Marines and a large group of combat forms were fighting for control the highest point in the room: a hilltop with a warthog, ten Marines, and a weapons cache.
       Conway was checking his weapon when he heard the zip of a bullet and immediately after that he heard the crack! of an S2 sniper rifle. He looked up and shined his flashlight across the area and saw an ex-Marine, aiming the sniper rifle for another shot.
       Conway rolled to his left and dived behind a rock while the ex-Marine fired three more shots at the Marine, missing him every time. Luckily, Flood don't take time to aim as they should.
       Conway sidestepped from cover and took up a bead on the ex-Marine, but before he could fire, a rocket impacted near the Flood form and blew it to bits.
       Conway looked around, then at the hill with the Marines on it. A rocket-jockey was waving him forward. Conway gave him a thumbs up and began his trek through the maze of boulders and dead bodies. The rocket-jockey and two other Marines provided suppressive fire for the Corporal on his way up the hill.
       After five minutes of ducking, dodging, and running up the hill, he finally arrived at the top and sat down with his back next to the rear left tire of the warthog. Shell casings from the still operating LAAG fell upon him, but he didn't care. He had found some fellow Marines, and a chance for survival.
       Conway sat there for a few seconds and caught his breath. After a few seconds, he got up and started fighting again. The battle for the hill lasted for another fifteen minutes. The total body count for the battle was four Marines, twenty-two ex-Marines, twelve ex-Elites, and three Grunts that were unfortunate enough to be caught in the cave when the Marines retreated into it.
       In all, the Marines had won a nearly impossible victory, especially with so few dead from their squad.
       A Private came up to Conway and began to brief him on the situation, "Sir, after we got separated from Force One, we got ambushed by a tank and retreated here. Our other three warthogs got blown up before we could get them in here. The Flood have been making hit-and-run attacks on us for the last four hours. Every time they would carry off some of our guys, but not this time, because we killed their entire assault force on this run."
      "Thank you, Private. Is there anything else?" Conway replied.
      "Yes, sir. When are we leaving?" the Marine replied.
      "I don't know." Conway said hollowly.
       The Private said something, but Conway wasn't paying attention. He was paying attention to the cave he had came through only a half hour earlier, it was now pouring Flood out into area. Before he could shout a warning, another Marine Private yelled, "Flood! Suppressive fire!"
       How could they hold out against another attack so soon? They needed to be re-supplied, or they would die by the hand of the Flood.
       Corporal Conway fired his BR55 at the nearest ex-Elite. The Flood had brought a dirty trick to this fight, they knew how to work shields and light-bending cloaks - they had managed to figure out how to work the armor of the former Elites. This was especially bad, since it was difficult for the Marines to effectively kill normal Elites, now they had Elites with super strength, speed, and agility.
      "Pull back!" Corporal Conway screamed, and fired a short, almost panicked burst at the oncoming horde.
       A few dozen yards behind the Corporal, an ex-Marine hefted a rock, and lobbed it at the horde of Marines on the top of the hill, hoping to injury one bad enough to make it into his meal.
       The rock arched into the air and impacted upon a Marine's head. He fell over, a deep gash was in the soldiers head now, and he was bleeding profusely. He lost consciousness and slumped over onto the icy floor of the chamber.
       An infection form skittered across the floor of the room. It found one of the few bodies of Marines that were available for assimilation. It inserted the needle-like spike into the Marines neck and aimed it towards the spinal cord.
       A burst of pain was sent through the Marine's body. The mind of the Marine was present and it felt something foul enter it. The Marine's mind tried to fight off the infection form from taking over his mind and body, but in the end, he lost.
       The ex-Marine's body shook and convulsed as the infection form grew familiar with the new musculature. Then, it got up, picked up a half-empty BR55 and walked across the chamber to the cave the other combat forms had retreated to after.
       The name on the patch of the Marine was Corporal James Conway.