Posted By: Debo<Major_Debo@hotmail.com>
Date: 19 May 2006, 2:50 am
1203 hours, October 22, 2552 (Revised Military Calendar)
Iota Draconis System, Cicero III, Pelican Charlie 4.
Two pelicans roared over the tops of trees and foliage, heading towards the landing zone. The first pelican consisted of eight Spartan II's in MJOLNIR battle armor. Two crates full of ammo, weapons, and gear was clamped onto the back of the pelican. In the second pelican, a dozen Marines sat and waited for battle. A Warthog was attached to the back of the second pelican. This would be all the support that the Spartans had.
"Second Squad, be prepared. We are about three minutes from the landing zone." Debo-269 announced over the team comm.
"Roger that, 269." Sergeant Parker said over the radio. "We'll be right behind you, sir."
Debo's Spartans had already made a final check of their weapons and gear about ten minutes prior to the announcement. Debo made a check of his rifle and grenades on his belt. They were all accounted for - eight frags, a BR55, two M6C magnums, and all the ammo he could carry. Debo paced around the pelican, waiting for the moment when he could finally get to fire at the covenant bastards that had invaded his planet.
"Alright, men," Sergeant Parker barked over the roar of the pelican's engines. "I don't want to have to call any of your mothers or husbands or girlfriends and tell them that you got your ass singed off in a firefight. I don't want to lose any of you men... or women, so keep low and try not get your ass shot off." Sergeant Parker shifted. "I want you all to know that we are about to engage in battle with odds standing at 10 to 1. Our only advantage is that we have eight bad-ass cyborgs that will help us kill all those bastards outside that threaten our way of life. Stay out of their way and you won't get your ass shot off by friendly fire. Got that, Marines?"
"Sir, yes, sir!" the entire pelican screamed.
"Good, because I'm not going to tell you twice." Parker put a cigar in his mouth and ran his hand along the side of his unshaven face. "Damn it's good to be a Marine."
The two pelicans came in on the LZ and landed. The ammo and warthog was detached and the soldiers from both pelicans unloaded and secured the landing zone. The pelicans gently lifted off and headed over the mountains out of view. One marine watched the pelicans soar away from view and sighed a prayer for the men around him.
"Hey, 269," the pelican pilot began over the comm. "We're going to sit down about a twenty kilometers due south of here. Call us when you're ready for evac. Over"
"Roger that." Debo said into his comm.
"Give 'em hell, Marines!" the pilot said before the comm snapped off.
Sergeant Parker eased his finger off the trigger of his BR55 and cleared his throat.
"Alright marines." Parker barked to his men. "Get in formation and keep your eyes peeled for alien bastards."
"Hoorah!" The marines replied.
Debo gathered his Spartans around the warthog. "Alright, Spartans, here's the plans. I want Spanky, Brooke, and Natasha to take the warthog and reconnoiter this area." A nav point appeared on their HUDS. Three lights winked on inside Debo's helmet display. "Your new unit is Bravo Team."
"The rest of you will come with me. We will recon this area. Our new unit name is Alpha Team." Four lights winked on inside the helmet display along with a nav marker.
Debo walked over to the marines and knelt next to Sergeant Parker, who was examining a map of the area on his datapad.
"Alright, Sergeant." Debo began. "Your squad must hump it to here." He designated a place on the datapad's map. "When you get there, I want you to recon the area and report back. Try not to get into a firefight. Good luck, Sarge. By the way, Second Squad is now Team Charlie."
"Good luck?" Parker cocked his head quizzically. "Those covie bastards are the ones that are going to need luck when I find them."
"Alright then." Debo turned his comm to the team's frequency. "Everyone move out."
Seven lights winked on in his hud.
Sergeant Parker gave Debo a thumbs up and ventured off into the brush with his men in tow. The warthog got rolling and sped off into the distance. Debo and his fire team moved out, heading toward their recon site.
Debo had been thinking a lot about his mission objectives. Their mission was to place charges at a Covenant Arms factory and eliminate whatever forces were in the region. Debo had put Philip in charge of carrying the Fury Tactial Nuke, since he was the demolition expert. That's all it would take to wipe out the arms factory and the power plant. A second mission objective was to neutralize a small Covenant base, which is where the warthog was heading to recon. Another objective was to check the status of a downed frigate, the FFG 322 "Chappelle." Debo had already sent second squad to investigate the crash site, he just hoped that they didn't try to engage anything without the help of the Spartans.
For twenty minutes the Spartans crept through the heavily wooded forest area, heading toward the covie's arms factory. Enemy contact had been only a couple of Grunts that weren't smart enough have a guard around when they were sleeping - a mistake that they never knew they made. The Spartans were making good progress.
The marines of Second Squad, or Charlie Team, were having a tough time getting to their objective. Downed trees, booby traps, and Jackal patrols had caused them to divert their course by a lot. They were now about ten minutes behind schedule. Sergeant Parker was not happy, so he ordered his men to pick up the pace. In the distance, smoke could be seen drifting into the sky, but no source could be seen.
"C'mon marines." Parker said into his mike. "We gotta get to that objective and report back "
The Marines picked it up a notch and reached the objective in about six minutes. They took up a position on a hill that overlooked the valley below. A frigate lie on it's belly. The body was broken in the midpoint and parts were strewn across the terrain for about a half mile around. Parker brought his binoculars to his eyes.
"Oh shit." Parker exclaimed. In the valley below, Parker saw something that sickened him. A hundred human bodies lay in the open. Elites and Jackals stood over the fallen soldiers and searched through the bodies for survivors. A red Elite took the body a Marine and carried it to an awaiting Phantom dropship. The dropship sucked up both the individuals and then it lifted off and headed off in a westward direction. The rest of the aliens on the ground continued to kill wounded marines and crewman.
A marine next to Parker said, "Good God. How could this shit be happening?" Parker quickly silenced the marine. Any sound could give away their position, and there was a substantial amount of enemy forces to deal with if they got into a firefight. A Marine sniper peered through his scope - ready to take out anything that Parker requested.
"Sir, I got targets of opportunity out-the-ass. Sir." the sniper commented.
"We can't risk getting into a large scale firefight without those Spartans." Parker said, then added. "When we get those Spartans back here, it'll be easy as pie to cut through to that downed frigate."
The marines of second squad were going to have to wait to engage Covenant forces and kick ass. A long wait was in store for seconds squad.
Pointman 151 "Vinny" had just enabled his new stealth camo. It had been reverse engineered from the elite's camo generator, and this one would let shielding work with it instead of separately - an advantage that all the spartans needed. He crept along fifty meters in front of the rest of the Spartans as he looked at his hud for enemy contacts. Nothing. It had been silent for the last ten minutes, and that gave Vinny a bad feeling. It felt like the Covie's were just waiting to spring a trap.
Vinny's motion tracker flared. There were five enemy contacts. He moved closer and crouched behind a fallen log. Ahead of him stood three spec op grunts, one engineer, and a gold elite. The gold elite had his hands free as well as the grunts. Apparently, they thought that they had wiped out everyone on this planet.
The engineer's tentacles turned into fine cilia, almost hair-like, and began to disassemble an assortment of weapons that lay on the ground in front of the group. Vinny watched in amazement as the alien took apart and put back together every weapon. After the engineer finished, the group moved on down the path and out of view.
Vinny put his radio to a private freq with Debo. "Spartan 151 to Spartan 269."
"Go ahead, Vinny." Debo replied.
"You need to get up here right now." Vinny began again. "I just witnessed something... strange. We may have to take a prisoner on this mission."
"We'll be up there in a few seconds." Debo turned to the team freq. "Let's move, Spartans!"
A waypoint marker appeared on everyone's hud, courtesy of Vinny. Three lights winked on in Debo's helmet. The four Spartans moved with speed and agility to the waypoint marker. As soon as they began running a heavy rain began to pour down upon them. They arrived and took up positions in a semi-circle except Debo and Vinny. Vinny disengaged his stealth camo and appeared near Debo.
"Ok," Debo began. "what do we got?"
"Watch this vid." Vinny replied. He handed Debo a small helmet recorder chip. Debo took the chip and plugged into his suit. A video of what Vinny had saw only moments earlier appeared on Debo's HUD. He watched it and took out the chip and returned it to Vinny.
"Good job." Debo said.
"Thank you, sir." Vinny said.
Vinny hit his magnification on his helmet and zoomed in on the path ahead of the squad. He scanned the area for any threats or traps that may lie ahead. Vinny could see only rain and branches moving in the distance. Debo commanded everyone to forget about motion trackers: in the forest, everything moved when it rained. Four lights winked on inside Debo's HUD.
"Let's move out." Debo announced. "Vinny, get up there and recon."
Vinny engaged his camo and moved forward fifty meters in front of the squad. The squad followed behind and listened and searched for any contact in the trees and foliage surrounding them. Branches and bushes moved with the wind from the storm that had moved in. Trees shook with violent motions and limbs crashed to the ground around the Spartans. They came to the lip of a canyon, below sat the arms factory.
"Ok, Spartans." Debo announced. "We are going down there to plant this bomb. I want Winter to stay here and support the rest of the team. The rest of you are coming with me. Let's go."
Winter took up a firing position atop a tree. The rest of the team sneaked down the side of the canyon and crept up to the edge of the foliage that hugged the area surrounding the factory. They all checked their gear one final time before going in. Rain pattered off the Spartans armor.
Debo turned on the team freq. "Alright Spartans." Debo looked around and took a deep breath. "Charge! Fire at will!"
Three cracks rang out as soon as the channel cleared of Debo's voice. Winter had took down two elites and killed a grunts that was unfortunate enough to be fixing a wraith instead of in a nearby building. It was amazing that she could see that well during a heavy rain like this.
A group of ultra elites came out of the factory, only two of them had plasma rifles and the rest had their swords drawn. One of them had two plasma pistols, one in each hand. Debo saw this and a chill came over his body. That much fire power could drain his shield in a second.
Four shots cracked out and two of the ultras fell with holes in their elongated heads. The rest of the elites didn't even know that Vinny was sneaking up on them. Vinny through two frag grenades in the midst of them. Too late they realized what the metallic clank was at their feet.
The grenades exploded and sent three of then elites body parts flying in all directions. Only one elite left, he retreated into the building before someone could get a shot off. The rest of the Spartans had moved up by then and were waiting at the door of the building the elite had just disappeared into. This was going to be easy.
Spanky, Brooke, and Natasha sat on a hill, overlooking a valley below. A small Covenant base sat in the middle of the valley atop a small hill. Elites and grunts milled around the base performing menial tasks and inspecting vehicles. Natasha peered through the magnification of her helmet and saw a shimmer float next to a stream in the valley- stealth elites. They would be a real problem when the team assaulted the base later. Maybe they could take them down easily when they got the rest of team and marines linked up with them.
"Spartan 429 to Spartan 269." Natasha spoke into her comm.
"I copy you." Natasha's radio burped to life. "Have you reconnoitered the base yet?"
"Roger that. We are going to need all the forces to take down this base though." Natasha peered through her visor magnification again, scanning the valley below. Vehicles began to form up and troops began loading weapons and supplies in them. "You'd better hurry. It looks like they're getting ready for an operation."
"Roger. We'll be there as soon as possible. We should be done here in about an hour. Stay low and don't engage unless absolutely necessary. Spartan 269 out." The radio burped out the last transmission and fell silent.
Natasha looked at the other Spartans, they had heard everything the same as she did, so they knew the orders: stay put. This was going to be a long wait for the Spartans.
Sergeant Parker looked through his binoculars and scanned the area below, searching for any survivors of the crash. The storm had moved in over them and visibility was getting worse all the time. The rain was getting so heavy that Parker was having a hard time distinguishing targets. He finally gave up and sat down a fallen tree stump. Private Boilar, the teams communications expert, approached the sergeant.
"Sir," the private began. "I have Fleet on the squawk. They are requesting you, sir."
Parker took the headset from the marine and put it on. "Go ahead, Fleet. This is Sergeant Parker of Charlie Team."
"Sergeant," the radio belched out, static was interlaced with the transmission. "we are sending in a squad of helljumpers in to support you. We are also sending in some supplies for you. The drop point will be at grid fourteen by ten. Good luck, Fleet Admiral Stanley out." The radio fell silent and Parker returned the headset to the marine next to him.
Parker was glad that support was on the way, but it made him wonder why they had been sent at all. Maybe the brass just wanted to be safe and not get a big body count with this operation. Maybe there was another objective that needed to be accomplished. He didn't know, but he did suspect something.
The admiral of the carrier Endurance sat back in his chair and waited to be killed. Across the room, sat Colonel James Ackerson of the Office of Naval Intelligence. He held a pistol in the direction of the admiral. Ackerson let out a sigh and lowered the weapon a bit, but still high enough to inflict injury if he should fire the weapon.
"Thank you very much, Admiral Stanley." Ackerson said, rubbing his temple. "Your actions have saved me a whole hell of a lot of trouble."
"Why are you doing this?" the admiral stirred. "The Spartans have been nothing but good for our side."
Ackerson raised the pistol and began pacing, rubbing his forehead now and breathing heavily. "I'm doing this because those damned Spartans have caused me nothing but trouble for far too long. Operation Landlord is going to be executed without any flaws, and I will kill everyone in my way to make sure of that."
"You've gone crazy, Colonel." The admiral replied. "Sending a NOVA down there will kill everyone on the planet, not to mention everything in orbit."
"That's my entire plan, you blubbering idiot." Ackerson turned back to the admiral and smiled. "Those damned Spartans have stolen the spotlight way too long and they aren't effective. The Spartan program must be stopped now!"
The colonel turned again and began looking at a picture of the battle of Marathon. He was still ranting about the Spartan failure.
Taking this opportunity to react, Admiral Stanley reached into his desk drawer and withdrew a M6C. Ackerson heard the hammer lock and turned around and aimed his M6C at the admirals head.
"Take this, asshole!" Stanley shouted. He pulled the trigger and five rounds tore into Ackerson's torso. Ackerson retorted by firing three rounds at the admiral. All the rounds missed except for one, which hit him the shoulder, missing his heart by only an inch. The admiral fell over onto floor from his chair and Ackerson fell with his back to the wall and slid down, blood trailed on the wall from the exit wounds he received.
The admiral stood as best he could and walked over to the colonel. He leveled his M6C at the colonel and stared at the heap in the floor. "Why did you really do this?" The admiral pumped a fresh round into the pistol's chamber.
The colonel moved a bit and tried to pick up his pistol, which had been thrown several feet away when he fell against the wall and dropped it. He looked into the admiral's eyes. "I did it because... because... " The colonel spat up some blood and spit. He slid down on the ground on his left side. He struggled to pull some air into his quickly failing lungs.
"Come on now, boy," Stanley urged. "breathe, you son of a bitch."
The colonel watched one of his bullet casings smoke. The smoke arched up and drifted toward him. He exhaled and drew on his final breath of air. That smoldering bullet casing was that last thing Colonel Ackerson ever saw.
The Admiral called for a medic and called for a communications uplink to Second Squad on the planet. He'd have to move fast to save everyone from a fiery death.
The marines of Second Squad had moved out and were only about five hundred feet from the huge crate that had been dropped. A scorpion battle tank awaited inside the container, or so thought the marines of Second Squad. They had traveled two miles to get to the drop location, and they were about to get very lucky and very unlucky at the same time. Private Boilar ran up to Sergeant Parker and handed him the headset.
"It's Fleet again, sir." Boilar began. "They say it's important."
"Alright," Parker waved at thr squad to halt and took the headset from the Private. "This is Sergeant Parker. Awaiting orders."
"Sergeant," the radio blared to life. "whatever you do, don't open any of those dropped supplies. I repeat: Do not open any of the supplies that have been dropped. You will be debriefed on this when you return."
"Admiral," Parker began. "where's our ODST buddies at? I thought we were getting reinforced?"
"Negative, Sergeant. Proceed on mission and RV with the Spartans. They'll know what to do. Sergeant, a plan to murder everyone on the planet was put down. There's a NOVA in one of those crates, don't touch any of them. We'll be sending down a crew to dismantle the device soon. I'll give you full details when you return. Good luck, Sergeant. Fleet out." The radio fell silent.
Parker looked in amazement at the headset and threw it back to Boilar, who didn't catch it in time and it fell to the ground. A NOVA? Who in the hell would try to kill the entire planet when there was still thousands of UNSC forces on it? Parker didn't know, and he didn't care. He just wanted to get the mission over with and get back home. He turned and looked at his marines.
"Alright, you apes," Parker shouted. "we're not getting to be reinforced today. So that means we can't sip wine and eat cheese while other marines do our work for us. We're moving out and heading back to the crash site. Move it!"
The twelve marines took off jogging in the direction they had just come from. Sergeant Parker was getting really tired of confused orders and random shit. The marines of Second Squad had a surprise follower, though. An Ultra Elite was following behind the squad about fifty meters. The elite had his stealth generator on and he was ready to kill. It would only be a matter of time before someone died.
Four out of five Spartans of Alpha Team crept through the dark confines of the Covenant Arms factory. They had already ran into the elite that had retreated into the recesses of the building earlier. They had taken care of him with no problem - only two shotgun blasts and he was cut to ribbons. The air that came through the Spartans scrubbers was somewhat singed and the smell of burning flesh nearly gagged the team. Something or someone must have gotten caught in a part of the factory and burned to death. Cracks from Winter's sniper rifle could be heard slightly, they knew she had just taken care of some guards - and bought the team more time.
Vinny held up a hand - the rest of the Spartans stopped in their tracks and searched the surrounding area for targets. A group of four Jackals with carbines pasted by the corridor the Spartans were in. They hadn't seen them. The Jackals must have been off duty, they didn't have any of their weapons at the ready. This hit was going to be easy.
"Point to Team leader." Vinny said quietly over the comm.
"Go ahead. You got contact?" Debo answered.
"Yes, four Jackals. All have carbines." Vinny responded. "They must be isolated from the rest of the soldiers. They seem to not even know that the enemy has infiltrated their base."
"Spartans," Debo announced. "let's take those boys down."
The four Spartans crept up the corridor and took the right passage and followed the Jackals. Each member of the team took up aim on a target and fired on Debo's order. In a split second, twelve rounds of 9.5mm ammo was expended and the rounds lodged into four skulls, killing the four Jackals.
"All clear." Vinny announced. "I can see the main plasma storage room ahead."
Winter trained her sight on the elongated head of a minor elite. Crack! the round entered the left temple of the beast and exited onto a metal wall to the right of the dead elite. The body crumpled and fell to the ground.
She took up aim on two spec op grunts and fired. The first round entered the head of a grunt and made its head explode in a fountain of gore. The second round hit the second grunt in the chest, exiting out the creature's back. Winter's body count had just risen by three confirmed kills.
"Spartan 269 to Spartan 311." Winter's radio sparked to life.
"I copy you, sir." She replied. "What do you need?"
"We've found the main storage tanks for plasma and are planting the explosives right now." Gunfire covered some of Debo's transmission. "Keep an eye out for enemy ground support, I think we're about to get a lot of company."
"Copy that, sir." Winter replied. "Get your shiny asses out here on the double, sir."
"No problem, out." The radio fell silent.
Winter reloaded her magazine and racked a round into the chamber. This is gonna get western. Winter thought.
1533 hours, October 22, 2552 (Revised Military Calendar)
unknown Covenant Starship
Corporal Adrian McGee and Private Tom Wayne sat in a cell room. They awaited torture and death in front of thousands of Covenant soldiers. That's what the covies took prisoners for: public killings. They had been captured after their pelican crashed into the side of a hill, just after it escaped the Chappelle's launch bay before the frigate went down.
The door to the cell block open and in stepped an eight foot tall golden elite. The elite had only its energy blade, and it was secured in the belt on its waist. The alien approached the cell that contained the two helljumpers. Wayne and McGee looked at one another. They knew that someone was about to die, and it wasn't going to be them.
"Rise." the elite ordered.
"Go to hell, Goldie locks!" McGee shouted and spat at the alien.
"Rise, filth," the elite pulled his sword. "or I'll make you rise."
The two helljumpers once again looked at each other and they both reluctantly rose and stood, backs against the wall. The elite turned off his sword and stepped over to a panel opposite of the cell. He punched a few symbols on the holographic display and the energy field that separated the individuals disappeared. The helljumpers had chance to take the elite down, but they didn't want to try without any weapons.
"You two have been graciously chosen to be kept alive." the elite looked at them with disgust. "I should've killed you two when I had the chance. Follow me. Don't worry, you won't be harmed unless you try to escape or become hostile."
McGee leaned over whispered into Wayne's ear. "I think we just got a little bit deeper into the shit."
"No kidding, sir." The private replied.
The elite and helljumpers walked down corridor after corridor for fifteen minutes. The ODSTs were getting pissed that they didn't know where they were going. Every time they tried to ask questions the elite would threaten them, so they decided to go along with the play, for now. They entered a huge room and in the middle of sat two aliens, floating in some type of hover chair. The elite knelt, as did the helljumpers. The ODSTs knelt simply because they thought it would keep them safe and not offend these aliens.
"Most high prophet of Wisdom," The elite began. "I've brought to prisoners to you. They -"
"Go now, Rosilee," one of the aliens ordered. "you've been very helpful and your support will be noted."
"Yes, hierarchs." The elite stood and walked away, while the marines just stood.
"Approach the high council, humans." One of the Prophets requested.
The two jarheads moved forward ten steps and were now about five feet away from the prophets. Corporal McGee got some balls about him and decided to ask this big shot alien a few questions. "What they hell are you doing attacking us, you bastard?" The marine made ready pounce on the prophet, until he saw a small spot on his chair begin to glow orange. He settled down and decided to listen now.
"Your species was targeted for extinction because they killed one our prophets." A prophet announced.
The marines looked at one another, confused. "What? You attacked us, remember?" McGee retorted and his nostrils flared. The prophets looked at one another, confused.
"Didn't you know that your government killed one our leaders?" The prophet asked.
"No," Wayne replied. "when the hell did this happen?"
"This happened, according your calendar, on January 27th, 2525." The prophet moved toward the marines. "One of our high leaders, the Prophet of Peace, was sent to a meeting with a human organization, known as 'ONI.' Peace talks were going very well until one of the ONI guardsman got frightened and decided to eliminate Peace. A battle ensued that left ten of your soldiers dead and fifty of our finest grunts and jackals deceased, along with the Prophet of Peace." The prophet turned his chair around and moved looked out a viewport. "Exactly eight days later, we arrived at 'Harvest' and began obliterating your race. The rest is history. So, now you know, humans. You know that it was you that started the war, not the Covenant."
The two marines simply looked in awe at the alien. A million thoughts rushed through the helljumpers heads. McGee came to a final conclusion: he had to end it here.
"So, how many of you 'Prophets' are left?" McGee asked.
"Three." Wisdom replied. "The Prophets of Truth, Anger, and myself."
A plan was suddenly formed in McGee's mind. He had one frag grenade in his vest. He could use it here, and kill two thirds of the remaining Covenant leadership, or he could wait until later and try to escape. A decision needed to made right then. He leaned over and whispered into Wayne's ear.
"Ok, I'm gonna throw this grenade," he showed the frag to Wayne. "when it goes off, we're gonna pounce on those freaky bastards, ok?"
"Let's do this shit!" Wayne replied.
McGee silently pulled the pin on the grenade and waited until the prophet was done jabbering, which he had been doing ever since McGee had found his frag. The prophet finally quieted down, and he turned to face the marines.
"So, what do you think?" The prophet asked. "Is honorable submission by humans into the Covenant a good plan for you two?"
The marines didn't hear a word the prophet had just uttered. "Take this, asshole!" McGee shouted and threw the frag. The two prophets screamed and tried to back away from the spinning grenade, which kept getting closer with every bounce. Whump! an explosion engulfed the second prophet in a ball of flame and shrapnel, killing him and destroying his hover chair. The prophet of Wisdom was thrown from his chair and was now laying on the ground, coughing up blood. The two marines walked over to the prophet.
"How's it feel to get your dick knocked in the dirt, douche bag?" Wayne asked, kneeling beside the prophet. "You arrogant motherfuckers!" Wayne jumped up and gave a good kick to Wisdom' face, collapsing his skull and getting gore on Wayne's boot. A door opened and in rushed twenty Ultra Elites, all carrying swords at the ready.
"Well," McGee began. "looks like we accomplished a mission that only a Spartan would dare to undertake."
"Yes, sir." Wayne replied. "Goodbye, sir."
"Goodbye, Marine." McGee replied.
At that very second, the elites all rushed forward at the two helljumpers, who just stood there and waited for it. Every second, the elites got closer and closer, so close that the ODSTs could feel the warmth off their blades. The lead elite made it to Wayne and made a wide arc slice. Wayne knew he couldn't block it, so he lunged and tried to avoid it. The blade entered Wayne's shoulder and exited from his hip - the top half of his bisected body fell along with the bottom half. Blood splattered onto McGee's face and the warmth of Wayne's blood gave McGee a split second of comfort before he died. The same elite swung at McGee, taking off everything from the nipple line up. He didn't even have time to react. The last two helljumpers of the 32nd ODST Division were dead.
Second Squad was having a hard time getting back to the crash site. Jackal patrols and Banshees had played hell with their route they'd plotted. They needed to get back to the strong point, and fast.
The Elite that followed the squad had closed the gap by now and was making ready to attack an unsuspecting marine. His energy sword was not yet powered on, he would have to be quick in order to retaliate if someone spotted him. He approached the rear guard silently, closing in on her with cat-like precision. The elite powered up his energy blade. Unknown to him, the rear guard had been attentive and seen the elite. The elite roared and lunged at the marine.
The marine turned and pulled the trigger on her M90 shotgun. A blast of fire and lead accelerated into the elite's armor and a hole appeared in the creature's middle. A second shot rang out from the M90 and by this time the rest of the squad had turned and taken up a bead on the wounded elite. The elite clutched the wound and fell to the ground.
Private Melinda Louise stood over the wounded elite and spat in its face. "This is for my brother, you asshole." the private said before pumping a new shell into the chamber of the M90. A coup de grace was performed with precision on her part - the elite's head was no more.
"Good eye, private." Sergeant Parker commented. "Check the area and let's move. I don't wanna get stuck out here after dark."
The squad fanned out and covered an area the size of a football field. They scoured every centimeter of the area and found nothing but trees, brush, and each other. Biggs, the pointman, found nothing on his path.
"Parker." Private Biggs keyed his radio.
"Go ahead," the radio blurted.
"We got nothing, returning to formation." he replied.
"Ten-Four" Parker replied, and the com snapped off.
"Damn, I really hate this sneaky shit." Biggs said quietly to himself.
Phillip placed the Fury Nuke under the gurders of massive conduction conduits that stretched across the main production room of the factory. He set the bomb to be remote detonated.
"Sir, it's set. We need to move out." Phillip reported to Debo.
"Roger." Debo replied.
The radio blurted and some static came through. "This is Spartan 244 to Spartan 269, come in. Over"
"I read you 244, go ahead with your traffic." Debo replied.
"I've just intercepted a transmission from a Covenant Assault Carrier about the arms factory you're assaulting. They are sending in a task force to take you out. I estimate from the amount of radio traffic that the force will be regiment size." The radio squelched a bit. "I'd suggest you pull out, sir. I say again: regiment size task force is coming down on your position. ETA is twenty minutes." The transmission ended
"244, your team needs to RV back with Charlie Team at the frigate's crash site. Do it now, over." Debo replied.
"We copy, sir. We're moving out now. We'll see you back at the frigate. Over and out." the radio snapped off.
A feeling of shock and awe was sent through Debo's body. Eight Spartans and twelve Marines couldn't stand a chance against over a thousand enemy soldiers. They needed to be extracted as soon as possible.
"Spartan 269 to Spartan 311" Debo announced into his mike.
"I read you, go ahead 269." the radio spouted out the transmission from the Spartan
"The bomb is in place and we are moving outside." Debo squelched the COM. "Be ready to provide covering fire. Also, we're you clear on 244's traffic about the task force?"
"Roger, 269, I heard every word he said." Winter replied.
"Roger that, 311, we'll be out in the open in a few minutes. Hold tight. Out." Winter's radio snapped off.
Winter had came down from the tree by now. Well, the tree branches had broken due to the weight of her armor, so she was once again in a prone position taking out the enemy.
Winter sighted in a squad of three grunts and one elite that were headed toward the entrance of the arms factory. She put her bead on the elite's temple and squeezed the trigger. Bits of gore, bone, and brain blew out the opposite side of its skull onto the metal wall.
The grunts that witnessed this turned and began fleeing.
Winter sighted in two of the little bastards as they passed in front of one another. She squeezed the trigger and killed both of them with one shot. Bad move, guys she thought as she sighted in on the last grunt.
The grunt turned and fired its plasma pistol at where it thought the tracers where originating. The grunt fired six bolts of plasma at the top of a hill about thirty meters away from Winter.
Winter squeezed the trigger on her S2 and sent the little creature to the great unknown.
"Spartan 311 to Spartan 269." She coughed into her radio.
"Yes, go ahead." a reply came.
"The outside perimeter is secure for now. You'd better hurry up before more company arrives." Winter shifted and reloaded her S2.
"Roger. We're on our way out now." the COM snapped off.
Winter loaded a clip into her S2 and cycled the bolt. She checked her ammo supply and found it to be low. She only had sixteen rounds of S2 AM ammunition left, including the rounds she just put into the rifle. If the Spartans wanted to complete all objectives of this mission, then they would definitely need to be re-supplied... and soon.
Winter heard crunch of dry brush behind her, and a shadow covered her body along with a two foot radius around her.
Shit! she thought, just before opening the squad's COM channel.
Debo and his squad moved through the complex, retracing their steps and finding their way back out of the building.
Suddenly, the radio was filled with static and a scream. The scream was from the voice of Winter.
"---they've arrived----ly. I need some back------here right now!" A scream resonated through the radio and Winter's voice shuddered and the COM snapped off.
Debo stopped for a split second and thought about what he should do. Then, the answer was abundantly clear.
"Spartans," Debo shouted into the COM. "move to exit point!"
Debo and the three Spartans following him broke off into a fast run.
"This is Bravo Team. We are seven minutes out from your position, Command." the radio blurted in Debos' helmet. "We'll be there as soon as possible."
"Roger, Bravo Team." Debo replied. "311 sounds like she could use some serious help. We are thirty seconds from establishing visual contact with her."
Debo and his squad ran down the long, last corridor that lead to the outside. It seemed like the corridor stretched on forever and kept getting longer with every step the Spartans took.
Finally, after an eternity of running, the Spartans burst through the doors that lead to the outside of the complex... and into the awaiting sights of a Wraith mortar tank.
"Evade!" Debo yelled into his mike.
A belch of plasma erupted from the mortar tank and arched up in the sky and began to descend upon the Spartan's position.
Debo and Vinny jumped to the right and Preston and Phillip dove to the left.
The plasma bolt impacted on the ground and created a glassy smooth surface of molten materials.
"Take that fucking tank out, Phillip!" Debo yelled into his mike.
Phillip stepped out from behind cover and fired two jackhammer rockets at the tank. They both spiraled toward the tank and impacted on the nose of the wraith and lighting it up like a firecracker. The tank exploded into a blue fireball and was consumed by its own fuel. Now, the Spartans had to worry about their partner - Winter.
The Spartans moved from their cover and ran up the ridge to where Winter was supposed to be. She was nowhere to be found. Then, Debo looked thirty meters away and saw Winter. She was laying face down in a pool of blood and hydrostatic gel. A brute was standing over her with a plasma rifle in his clutches.
Debo brought up his rifle and fired an entire clip of BR55 ammo into the beast's chest while running full speed at the monster. Debo lunged and hit the brute with full force, causing the animal to stumble and fall.
Debo jumped onto the belly of the beast and pulled the pin on a frag grenade and stuffed it inside the belt of the brute. Debo jumped off the brute and dove behind a rock. An explosion engulfed the brute for a split second, and then blood and gore splattered around the area. The area was, more or less, secure.
Debo moved out from behind the rock and went over to Winter's side. He looked at her stats on his HUD. She was alive, barely.
Winter awoke and turned over onto her back, and removed her helmet. She began coughing blood and stared into space.
"It's pretty bad, isn't it, sir?" She asked through the pain, and was writhing in pain and squirming.
"Yes." Debo answered simply. She was too bad to be saved: her chest-plate was crushing her lungs and her arm was nearly severed. She wouldn't last another fifteen minutes.
At that time, the remaining Spartans topped the hill and approached Debo and Winter's position. Every other Spartan knew what had happened and what was going to happen when they saw her.
"Spartans, get the hell outta here." Debo opened his comm to the squad.
"Sir, we can get an evac-" Preston said before being cutoff.
"I gave you an order. Now follow it damn it!" Debo said stronger.
"You heard the CO. Let's get the hell outta here." Preston replied over the comm channel.
The Spartans walked over the hill and disappeared. Debo and Winter were now alone again. They looked at one another.
"A dust-off wouldn't help you. I'm so sorry we weren't there to protect you. I should be in your position." Debo said
"I know you're sorry, sir. There was nothing you could do. Don't forget what Chief Petty Officer Mendez said 'there's a difference between a life wasted, and a life spent.' Debo, I spent my life to protect all of your lives. For that, I can be proud." She whispered, blood appearing before her lips.
"You are one of the bravest Spartans bred. I'm glad we got to fight together." Debo replied.
"I'm tired of fighting and hurting. Do it, sir." Winter said.
Debo looked into Winter's deep, blue, crystal-like eyes. They reminded him of the blue waters of the oceans back on Earth. It seemed as though her eyes were sparkling in a certain way for no reason at all, they always did that.
Debo knew it was his job as commander to do this - the part of the job that he hated the most. The part of the job that he wished didn't exist.
"I'm sorry." he replied, hanging his head.
Debo pulled out his M6C and cycled a round into the chamber.
Bravo team rolled up to the Arms Factory and the Spartans onboard jumped off and shouldered their weapons. The three Bravo team members approached three of the four Alpha team members and stopped a few meters away from them.
"Who got hit?" Brooke asked.
"311, Winter." Preston replied. "She's pretty bad."
A shot rang out from over the hilltop. The Spartans turned and stared at the hill, waiting for a report from Debo. At that moment, Debo appeared over the ridge and began making his way down to the other Spartans.
They watched him as he paced down the slope and headed toward the squad. They knew that Debo was now one angry son-of-a-bitch. Winter had been his best friend since they had been drafted into the Spartan program. She had given him hope when he thought there was no way out of a scenario.
"Winter's gone." Debo announced grimly. "I've brought her fail-safes online in her armor. If anyone tries to tamper with her, they'll get an explosive surprise, as well as anyone unlucky enough to be standing within a four meters radius of the body."
Suddenly, a crackle of interference went through the squad's COM system.
"This is Lieutenant Kelso of the frigate Chappelle. We are holed up in a structure at these coordinates: Two-nine by six-eight." a burst of interference occurred. "--es anyone copy? Over" Gunfire and an explosion covered the last of the transmission.
The Spartans looked at one another. They were going to save someone. Debo immediately radioed the Lieutenant and informed him that three Spartans would be there within fifteen minutes, and more Spartans would be there within the hour.
"Bravo Team," Debo announced. "get that warthog moving to those positions. We're gonna call for pickup and get over there as soon as possible. Move out, Spartans!"
Bravo team jumped into the warthog and tore off into the distance.
Alpha Team began humping it back to Second Squad's position at the crash site.
"Spartan 269 to Second Squad." Debo spoke into his mike.
"Go ahead, sir." came the reply.
"We've picked up a distress call from survivors of the frigate. They are holed up at an abandoned structure about twenty kilometers from here." Debo checked the coordinates of the warthog on his HUD. "Bravo team should arrive in about seventeen minutes. We are headed back to link-up with you and we will be flown to the site and rescue those survivors. Over."
"Roger that, 269. We've established a secure perimeter at our position, just to let you know. What's your ETA?" Sergeant Parker asked.
"Ten minutes," Debo looked at Preston, who was trying to get into communications with their pelicans. "The pelicans should arrive about the same time we do. Be ready to move, Sergeant."
"Second Squad's ready to roll as soon as all personnel is at the LZ. New designation as Landing Zone Waco. Second Squad out." the radio fell silent.
"Hey, Preston, did you get in touch with those pelicans?" Debo asked.
"Roger," Preston replied. "They will arrive in fifteen minutes."
"Thanks." Debo replied.
Throughout that entire conversation, the Spartans didn't loose a single step in their pace. They were running on pure hatred for the Covenant.
Back at Second Squad's position, things were getting a bit hostile. For about an hour now, the Covenant had been sending recon flights over the crashed frigate. So when the banshees didn't return because Second Squad shot them down, the Covenant commanders got suspicious. So, they sent four Phantom dropships to investigate the problem.
"Sir!" the comms officer screamed at Sergeant Parker. "Fleet says we have imbound Phantoms, ETA in three minutes! They're being escorted by... four banshees!"
"Everyone get ready for a fight!" Parker screamed. "We got inbound Covies. Repel our borders."
"Sir," Private Westerchek began "we only have three rockets left for the M19. We're one rocket short of having enough for each banshee. What are we going to do?"
"Pray that those Spartans get back here, and quick." Parker replied, then stood up. "Grab some dirt and get ready! We're gonna hold this piece of real estate if it's the last thing we do!" Parker yelled.
The men and women of Second Squad got into their tactical firing positions and made sure their weapons were cocked, locked, and ready to rock. Sergeant Parker jumped into the trench line that the squad had made and sat there, waiting for the enemy to arrive. It was going to be a helluva firefight.
"Chief," Crew Chief Mika Ivanavich screamed into her mike. "we got three banshees on our tale! We need to move!"
"Get that fucking HAAG to working!" the pilot replied. "Don't we have some M19 rockets too?"
"No. That ground team back on Erandus III took them last week. Remember?" said Corporal Lance Barnes, the gunner on the craft.
"You gotta be shittin' me!" Warrant Officer Sheila Smith commented, reading her gauges.
"What is it?" Chief Warrant Officer Hal Rokey, the pilot, asked.
"We got four more banshees incoming." she replied.
Before the pilot could reply, a violent explosion shook the craft.
Warrant Officer Smith checked the panel and it was flashing crimson red. The banshees had gotten a lucky shot in. They had hit the fuel supply on the left side of the aircraft. They were going down.
The pelican began to lose altitude.
"This is Delta 2, we are going down!" the co-pilot began repeating into her mike.
Alpha team moved through the brush and foliage toward Second Squad and came out into the opening field that was Landing Zone Waco. Two Banshees circled what was left of the marines in the trench lines. Bodies of grunts and jackals were scattered over the two hundred yard killing zone that Second Squad had made.
"Target those flyers!" Debo said over the SQUADCOM.
Philip shouldered his M19 and fired two rockets at the enemy flyers. Each rocket found its target, and the banshees were reduced to a pile of smoldering ash. The Spartans fanned out and searched for survivors.
"Help!" a voice came from somewhere in the trenches.
"Where's that coming from?" Debo asked over the team frequency.
"Over there, sir." Philip pointed to a part of the trench-line.
The Spartans began clearing away bodies from where the screaming originated. The bodies were charred and pieces of flesh and bone often came off into the gauntleted hands of the Spartans.
An arm appeared from under the bodies. It curled its hand into a fist and once again a muffled scream could be heard. Debo picked up two of the dead marines and sat them outside the trench.
There, laying in a puddle of blood and mud, was Sergeant Parker, clutching his side. He had been hit with plasma in the side, not too serious, but he needed to be patched up quickly. Preston flooded the wounded area with biofoam and cleaned it thoroughly.
Sergeant Parker stood up and looked at the bodies of his fellow marines. Only three of his marines had made it through the attack. He sat back down and just stared at his rifle. The other three marines began stirring and sat down by their sergeant.
Debo knelt next to him, "What happened, Sergeant?"
"Banshees." Parker replied. "They came outta nowhere. Phantoms dropped troops off too. They were the easy targets. It was those damned banshees that fucked us."
Debo was about to console the Sergeant, when static burst through the radio frequencies.
"--- is Delta 2, we ar--- oing down. We're going down! We're --ing down! We're go—" the transmission ceased.
Debo looked at the other Spartans, then at Sergeant Parker. He opened up a private COM channel with the remaining pelican.
"Charlie 4, come in. This is Spartan 269. Copy? Over" he said.
"This is Charlie 4, we read you. We're you clear on the traffic from Delta 2?" the pilot replied.
"Roger," Debo replied. "stay on-station at their crash-site and try to rescue survivors. We'll be fine and we can wait for you. Over."
"Roger that, Alpha Team. Will advise if we find survivors. Over and out." the COM snapped off.
Debo looked at the Preston, who was just finishing Parker's dressing on his side. Preston helped Parker to his feet.
"I think you're going to need this, Sergeant." Preston said, and handed Sergeant Parker his BR55.
"Thank you." Parker replied, and cycled the bolt. "Let's kill some fucking aliens, shall we?"
Every one of the four Spartans smirked behind their visor. Before anything could be done, though, static filled the radio.
"This is Admiral Stanley to the Spartan Ground Team. Do you copy? Over." a booming voice was heard.
"This is Spartan 269, leader of the team. I copy you, Admiral. What do you need?" Debo replied.
"Be advised: The orbital defense grid has failed. We are pulling out. We're sending in a modified pelican with a troop bay extender to extract you and your people. Gather your team at LZ Waco. Pick up will be there in twelve minutes. Copy, Spartans?" came the reply from the Carrier above.
"We copy, command." Debo replied.
The Admiral gave his "received acknowledgment" and then the COM went dead.
Debo looked at the team. He could feel the disappointment in all their minds. They had failed their first mission since training with CPO Mendez. Not only that, but one Spartan would be making the return trip in a body bag. This was truly a FUBAR mission.
"Debo to Bravo Team, report back to the LZ Waco. We're getting extracted." Debo opened the comm.
"Roger that. Returning to the landing zone." the COM channel snapped off.
Debo reached into an ammo pouch and removed the remote detonator for the Fury Tactical Nuke. He brought up an overlay of the Arms Factory through SATCOM. They were right, a regiment was at the factory.
Debo flipped up the protective covering of the firing switch, and pressed down on the firing trigger.
A light orange glow originated in the distance. The Spartans had, at least, completed some parts of their mission. This pleased Debo. At least Winter, and the Marines of Second Squad, hadn't given their lives for nothing. With that weapons factory out of commission, and it being the only one on the planet, then the Covenant would be hard pressed to keep up the firepower that they seemed have in unlimited supply.
Unknown to the Spartans, a dark menace lurked under the surface of the planet in a cold-storage facility. A menace that could kill them all...