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ODST: Team Two - Insertion
Posted By: DozyJoe<the.joe91@hotmail.com>
Date: 29 September 2009, 1:29 pm

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ODST: Team Two

Chapter One – Insertion

      Space seen like this was a rush of noise and colour and light, the shining stars and the velvet blue-black in which they were cushioned, the passing hulls of gunmetal-grey UNSC warships looming and then disappearing, looming, and then disappearing; the beep of the various instruments within PFC Larue's HEV. The plexiglass window set in the HEV's front was a blur of rushing…everything. His hands, clad in fingerless gloves, gripped the twin control sticks at his left and right white-knuckle tight, though there was no way he could control it yet. As he hurtled downwards his grey eyes began fixated down between his feet, trying to focus on something to fight down the incredible sense of nausea. He fought harder to keep his stomach on the inside than he had on the Orbital Platform only hours before.

      The plexiglass window in front of his feet was filled with the form of the enormous Covenant Assault Carrier that had settled in above the city of New Mombasa and had begun the attack on the city. Its great purple-white hull was partially hidden by cloud-cover, but it was worryingly large considering the incredible distance between him and it, though admittedly it was closing incredibly fast. He realised he was holding his breath – he was waiting for the impact with the atmosphere. He didn't release it. The Earth climbed towards him, growing vaster and vaster and then…

      He hit the atmosphere, the HEV screaming as it superheated, the continents and the oceans and more importantly the Carrier, disappearing as he pushed clean through, the metal cooling in the water vapour and steam exploding from the hull, choking off his vision, obscuring the plexiglass. He wretched, almost vomiting inside his helmet. Not a smart move. He swallowed, and felt the G-forces rip at him, nearly pulling the damn helmet off. It tore at his body-armour and BDUs. He came out the other side of the clouds, the wind snatching the steam away, the hissing-sound going. The Carrier still hung, motionless. He could see now, in the glare of the Sun, Mombasa's skyline, it's tall, graceful skyscrapers with their smooth curves, the clean white streets, the abandoned cars like immobile ants from this height. The Space Elevator, its solemn spire reaching into the clouds by now far above. The city was coming closer and closer, the rushing colours and noise now a maelstrom.

      There were dozens of other HEVs, all around, heading straight for the Objective, the Carrier. He was overshooting, and so he gripped the control sticks and twisted, trying to direct the HEV towards the massive ship; but the controls seemed to have malfunctioned. He pulled harder, but they wouldn't move at all – he was locked out.
What the hell? He thought, but then it didn't matter, because the Covenant ship was moving. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, it was moving, gradually gaining speed. Behind it hung a point of purple-blue light, slowly growing and intensifying, whirling. The god damn thing was moving to Slipspace, inside the city!

      Oh shit! Larue thought, his grey eyes peering back at the HEVs that were too close to escape, too close to move. They would all-

      The ship disappeared in a world-shaking flash of light and in that instant the city lay in ruins, burning, smoke-belching ruins. The HEV was thrown around, its course thrown completely out of kilter, and now it was starting to spiral out of control as the environment shook with the force of a blast almost like a thermonuke. It was at this point that his helmet was actually torn from him, rattling around, bouncing from his shaved head, a constant bruising force, and then his head hit something harder, and his vision blurred. He tasted blood and smelled that-copper smell and realised he had bitten his tongue. For a moment the stomach-churning carnage continued, and then, finally...blackness. In and out, blackness, gaps of minutes, but to Max Larue, reality strobed, the descent broken and yet in sequence, and then, the last flash of wakefulness, passing rows and rows of broken windows, gusts of black smoke, soot, and smog, great buildings holed and fire-blackened, and then…a bone-shuddering burst of noise and pain, the sudden stop after the incredible drop – later he would only remember feeling as though his shins were in his shoulders and his stomach split up and in his legs.

      Thirty Minutes Before

      PFC Max Larue sat, still fully armed and armoured. His seven-man team had come back from assisting the Orbital MAC Cannon the Athens. Though admittedly, the Platform's destruction showed that it had not gone well. There he was, his first action with the Helljumpers, and it was defending Earth. The one thing billions of people had prayed would never happen – had. He breathed deep, and adjusted his helmet on his knee. This was it. He had his rifle, an M7 SMG with an integral flash and sound suppressor, laid across his knees. His sidearm, he knew, was empty, his M6S pistol. He had emptied it when he had become separated from his rifle aboard the Athens. This rifle was a replacement from the armoury. He had lost his rifle, first time out. Some Helljumper. He sighed and stared at the floor as his team mates were stony silent to him.

      The six of them were all sitting in the HEV deployment room on some hastily requisitioned folding chairs, the seventh man, Gunnery Sergeant Keele, stood gaunt and solemn-faced and covered in Covie blood, before them, explaining their boarding of the Carrier in detail. It was all, to Larue, white noise. The hand placed atop his helmet to keep it there, clenched and unclenched, clenched and unclenched. Something cuffed him hard around the side of the head, knocking him momentarily for six. He refocused on the briefing, his eyes on Keele as he stepped back.

      "Yeah Larue," he started, evidently having guessed what Max was thinking, "You screwed the pooch. Get over it; we need to be able to rely on you where we're going."
Larue straightened up, composed himself, but the pangs of self-doubt never left the back of his mind.

      "We'll be assaulting the carrier by HEV – it has its shields down, for dropping troops and supplies into New Mombasa by the shitload. The bastards are bound to be expecting us, so once we've landed on the Carrier stay together and keep your eyes open, they're bound to deploy counter-boarders." Keele forged on now he had the unit's complete attention. The Trooper sat next to Larue raised his hand – LCpl Mike Morrison, a South Londoner with a shock of red hair and a penchant for marksmanship, as a result of which he carried the squad's S2AM sniper rifle. It was there now, hooked over his shoulder on its strap. He was absent-mindedly checking his sidearm as Keele was talking, but after several years of working together, Keele knew he was listening.

      "Sir, am I right in saying that the plan is as follows: we get into our HEVs, vehicles that travel at hundreds of miles per hour," he paused for affirmation, and Keele nodded, "After which we will attempt to crash into a Covenant ship, and gain purchase on it," he paused again, and Keele nodded, "Then we bust into a ship swarming with aliens, that is, if we survive the impact with the enemy ship, which is unlikely at best." He finished, his tone both inquiring and sarcastic.

      "Yes, Mike, that is the plan." Keele answered, a slight smile on his weathered face, twisting the scar that reached from his left ear to the corner of his mouth into a white knot.

      "God, I love this friggin' job."

      The four others in the team were Sgt. Rojas, Cpl Young, PFC Dullen and Pvt. Baruti Fenyang, who was from New Mombasa, and so, as he put it, was 'going home in a HEV'. The briefing lasted another fifteen minutes, and then it had been insertion time. His first combat drop. He climbed, nerves twanging into his assigned HEV. He strapped himself in, and got as comfortable as possible inside, and then, almost as an afterthought, reached into his pants pocket, producing from inside a square of laminate paper on which was a photograph. His wife, and his young son. Her name was Alice, and his son was born while he was away, and so she had sent him the image. His name was Stuart, and one day, Max would meet him.

      But for now he had work to do. He pushed it into the narrow gap between the cushioned arm rest and the hull on his left side, and then kissed it. He settled back in the HEV and waited. There was a pneumatic hiss, cutting off the voices of the crew and the other men of his unit calling to each other. The drone of the ship's air filters dissipated, and the door of the HEV swung down and slammed into the rest of the chassis.

      Larue opened his eyes, and with this action realised the pain that pounded through him. He groaned, and squirmed inside his titanium-reinforced prison. He blinked, and brought his surroundings into focus; the confined insides had gone dark, the HEV dead in its final resting place. Now and then the electronics, fried and busted, sparked in his face, making him recoil as best he could. He realised that the plexiglass window was covered in debris and dirt and God only knew what else. He spat blood to one side, and looked around for his helmet, which was crammed into the foot of the HEV. He needed to get the door open, get free, and then he could sort out his gear. He could hear nothing outside, the only sound the sparking electrics. He reached for the manual release for the door, to blast it clear. He hit the button. Nothing.

      Shit. He felt panic seep into his mind. He doubted seriously that the thing could be opened from the outside, or not without specialist equipment. He slammed an open palm into the door in frustration, dislodging some debris outside and letting some light in, wan and red-tinged, from a sign overhead. The light let him see through the misted plexiglass a little. He figured he was in the street, so at least if he could get out his position wasn't precarious. Larue pressed the manual release again, and then hammered at it like a broken light-switch. There was a spark, and somehow, the sudden burst of power seemed to give the manual release strength. The door exploded from the frame, and flew into the air. It clattered into the concrete somewhere further down the street outside.

      The daylight was fading fast outside, the sky overhead choked off by black smoke and the flames leaping from the ruined city. Mombasa was destroyed. It made him sick to witness the solemn, ominous, dark-windowed structures towering around him, either side of the broad, cratered street. Empty, abandoned cars scattered around it. Here and there were charred corpses, some wearing UNSC Marine body armour, some clad in armoured police blues, some innocent civilians. Many were Covenant, to Larue's satisfaction. Larue smiled to himself grimly. He had survived his first HEV insertion. Feet first into Hell.