ODSS Chapter 11
Posted By: Firerwolf<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 5 November 2011, 11:18 pm
Kathleen checked her clock one more time, making sure that it was set properly. They only had an hour before the Spartans were to be deployed to the planet and they would have two things to worry about. After five years of fighting and working around the Spartans, Kathleen had gotten used to the time limits. Today their mission was just to go through a city, destroy the biggest and the baddest of the Covies, and make sure survivors were evacuated. It didn't seem too hard, but a one hour limit would make it a challenge. The pelican slowed as it neared the surface and landed. Kathleen stood doing one last check of her SMG before the back of the pelican opened and the marines moved into the dense forest. They didn't feel comfortable enough on the planet to stand out in the field with the pelican.
"Move to the evacuation point, Night Raven. If things get bad and the point has to change we'll radio you," Kathleen ordered the pilot.
"Roger that, Sierra. Just make it to the evac point in time." The pilot hit a few switches and the pelican rose and moved off over the trees.
Kathleen was in no mood to waste any time. "Keep your eyes open kiddies, this rain's going to make our motion trackers useless and because of the trees we won't have any satellite feeds. I want groups of three, I'm taking point. We don't have time to dilly-dally. We're heading straight to the city."
"I always like it when we get straight to the point." Luke moved over to make a trio with Peter and Pat.
Kathleen ignored the comment, taking the lead. She could feel Emily and Edward behind her. They moved slowly through the jungle, being careful to be as quiet as they could. They wanted to surprise the enemy as best they could. The less prepared the Covenant was for them, the quicker they could get the job done.
It was the sound of a jackal that got Kathleen's attention. She flashed an orange light and the marines froze. Two grunts appeared, unaware of the danger. They seemed more engrossed in their conversation than the world around them. A single jackal moved up behind them, scolding the two grunts. Kathleen gave a few slow hand signals and her team moved into position. When all lights were green Kathleen flashed a red light. She sprung forward, her SMG slamming into the back of one of the grunt's heads. David mimicked her motion with the second grunt, caving in its head. Tobias swung his shotgun like a bat, nearly taking the jackal's head off its shoulders.
"Was that necessary?" Max looked down at the dead jackal. "What happened to this thing's arm?" He examined the jackal's crushed arm.
"Does it really matter? It's an alien that has probably slaughtered civilians. I don't care if it was necessary or how it got its arm messed up." Tobias wiped the alien's blood from his weapon.
"Why are the grunts already this far away from the city?" James shook his head, trying to throw off the odd feeling he had. "They should still be in the phase where they are still clearing out civilians."
"Best case scenario, the civilians got away. Worst case, they've already killed everyone or the people got away and now are being hunted by the Covenant. Hunting seems unlikely though. It would be a waste of time as they'd eventually just kill them by glassing the whole place." Kathleen looked away from her soldiers. "For this mission their behavior doesn't matter. We're only here to kill and make it easier for the Spartans. There's no time to be standing around. Get your asses in gear."
They only met up with two more patrols before they reached the edge of the city. Several of the buildings showed signs of some sort of explosives being used.
"Those don't look like they're from frag grenades." Emily moved over and ran a finger over the mark, looking at the dust that was left on her fingertips.
"Looks more like monkey nades." Matthew gripped his gun a bit tighter. The ODSS had had a few run-ins with the creatures known as brutes. They'd found out about the unique grenades the barbaric creatures used. Kathleen would take spike grenades over the incendiary grenades the stealth brutes used, or the flash grenades that made seeing impossible.
"All right, from here we're splitting up." Kathleen stopped them and brought up a quick team roster splitting the teams up into two lists and sending them to the soldiers. "Two groups; Blue Team's Edward, Emily, Max, Luke, James, and myself. Red Team's Tym, David, Pat, Peter, Matthew, with Tobias leading. Blue Team will check down by the wharf, Red Team, you head to the business district. Report anything unusual or any of the really big baddies. VISRs on and move out."
The teams split up, moving through the shadows. They checked each building as they went. They checked the short few story building by exploration and the larger buildings with thermal imagery. The VISR systems had been recently updated. The world around them was now properly outlined making travel easier. They found nothing, though, and things were starting to look bleak.
Kathleen stood staring at a particular building that was unsettling to her. At one point it had been a convenience store. The front windows had been smashed in like a tank had run through them. The problem is it didn't look like it had been done with a wraith. The store was also filled with foot prints that were either from a new species of brutes or possibly from a hunter, though something seemed different about them. One of the humans inside looked like they'd been burned in half. The other had been crushed under the large foot before the living tank broke through the back wall. She could only hope that they wouldn't have to meet whatever it was, though she knew it was their duty to kill it before the Spartans arrived. If she had to guess, she would have guessed it was a hunter, but she'd never seen one do so much damage or crash through a wall as easily as it looked like this one did.
"So from what I can tell we've got grunts and jackals, not really our problem, maybe some brutes, and from that shop a hunter with no self-control and on steroids." Luke looked down at his SMG. "Oddly, I feel under-armed."
"That's why you've got me, and this baby." James patted the beta form of the Spartan laser that he hefted onto his shoulder.
"It's like they foresaw us coming across a walking tank that could crush us all like little ants." Max seemed a bit too cheerful.
Kathleen glared at her soldiers. "Stop calling it a tank, all evidence points to a hunter. It being excessively violent doesn't change what it is."
Emily looked down at a dead body. "Whatever it is it doesn't seem to care about what's under its foot."
"What makes you say that?" Luke looked over at Emily.
"I noticed it on the first jackal we saw. Max pointed it out and at the time I'd thought it had just been a war wound. The first jackal looked like one of its arms had been crushed and quickly healed. But this one, this one you could match a boot with." Emily pointed at the jackal's chest. Something large had left a foot print in the alien just as had happened with the humans in the shop.
"Whatever's made this hunter so violent and powerful has made it extra dangerous." Kathleen decided to warn the rest of her squad. Kathleen opened a channel with Red team. "Red leader, this is Blue leader."
"Blue leader, this is Red leader. You have perfect timing, ma'am." Tobias seemed rather pleased.
"Report what you've found, Red leader." Kathleen moved to the center of the room so that she would have her soldiers watching all her sides.
"No survivors, but we've got plenty of patrols. Seems to be a concentration at the museum, but I can't really tell why. Plenty of the little guys, a good number of jackles. There are these sort of pink blobs floating around, taking things apart and putting them back together. They seem to be Covenant equivalent of nerds, or something. They don't really fight, so there's no reason to kill them. They didn't even are that we were here." Tobias seemed rather happy with that news.
"Noted Red leader, is that all to report?" Kathleen glanced over her shoulder as she thought she heard something, but chalked it up to the wind.
"One more thing to report, Blue leader. Peter went up high to scout ahead. Said he saw something really big with spikes on its back heading your direction. Said it was odd, though, because the armor was an unusual color." Tobias' smile was evident in his voice. "I'll give you three guesses as to what it is."
"Hunters. All right, Red leader. Keep your eyes open for the big ones. From the handiwork here we guess it must be them. They seem to be having an extra bad day, so avoid them." Kathleen glanced over at James, suddenly very glad that he had the Spartan laser.
"Understood Blue leader, Red leader out." Tobias closed the channel.
Edward looked up from the dead jackal. "What have the others found?"
"Seems Peter spotted what might be our walking tank. Seems it's a new rank of hunter, and it's heading our way, so be ready. If you find any pink floating aliens don't kill them. They aren't hostile and are more of a waste of ammunition. Save it for the actual threats." Kathleen looked around and saw all her soldiers nod. "Let's get moving. If there are survivors they won't be surviving much longer if the hunter finds them." The others nodded again and they moved out back to work.
They hadn't made it half a block before the big baddies appeared. What wasn't expected was that there were two of them. Their deep gold armor was like nothing that they'd seen before. At first they didn't even notice the soldiers. They stood in the road looking around as though waiting. That was until a silver-armored elite appeared. It had no problem spotting the marines. With a loud shout and a point the hunters had their target. Their large shields moved into position as they charged their weapons.
James was ahead of them and at the ready. A crimson red laser shot along the road, hitting the left hunter and blasting through it. The second hunter got off its shot. The green ball hit James, melting away the Spartan laser and taking his arm with it. The hunter that was left roared in sorrow and anger while Peter and Max dragged James to cover.
"Draw their fire away from the others." Kathleen moved along with Emily and Edward. The three opened fire, causing the elite to take cover behind the hunter and its shield.
"I thought you elites could fight." Emily taunted the alien, easily dodging the hunter's next shot. She opened fire on the bit of orange that she could see. Kathleen moved up on the opposite side while Emily had the hunter's attention. With her SMG rounds and the rounds that Kathleen sent through from the other side, the hunter collapsed as a corpse on the ground. The elite opened fire, hitting Kathleen in the side and arm. The elite turned just in time to see Edward, who slammed the barrel of his M6C into the alien's mouth and squeezed the trigger. Purple blood sprayed forth and the elite fell to the ground, dead.
Kathleen fell to one knee to catch her breath. The plasma had burned through her armor. Emily moved over to her side. "You alright Sarge?"
"I'm fine, just a small burn." Kathleen forced herself to work past the pain. "Max, what's James's status?" She moved back toward the rest of her team.
"Serious, the whole arm's gone. If we don't' get him attention soon, it could become very fatal." Max's voice was unsteady as he worked.
"Luke, Max, take James to the evac point. The Spartans will be here any time and we have to get those ships checked. Emily, Edward, and I will take care of the ships." Kathleen looked over her soldiers who nodded.
Luke grabbed James and the trio moved off. "Blue leader, we have a problem." Tobias sounded nervous to her. The slightly quieter tone either meant they were in danger or he had found something really bad.
"What's your problem?" Kathleen tensed, ready to hear the worst.
"We got rid of the brutes but, we've spotted Spartans." Tobias paused for a moment before continuing. "They didn't see us, ma'am, but they are moving through the city."
"Spartans are in the city already?" Kathleen froze, unsure of what to do. They were ahead of the time line they had calculated.
"They're big seven foot tall soldiers in MJOLNIR armor, yeah they are here." Tobias' tone would be insulting to anyone else, but Kathleen let it go.
"Red leader, have Red Team head to the evac point. We'll meet you there." Kathleen slipped a new clip into her weapon.
"Understood Blue leader, Red leader out." Tobias cut off the channel to do as ordered.
"How did the Spartans get here so fast?" Emily glanced around the streets as though they would arrive at any minute.
"Doesn't matter, we'll split up to check the ships." Kathleen moved off toward the wharf. They checked over every ship on the wharf.
"I've got survivors." Edward radioed after checking a few ships.
"Did you make contact with them?" Kathleen walked out of the ship she had finished checking.
"No, spotted their heat signal. They didn't see me." Edward moved away from the ship carefully so he wouldn't be heard.
"All right, mark which one it is." Kathleen waited and once the ship was indicated on her own map she continued. "Both of you head to the evac point."
"What about the survivors?" Emily's reluctance to leave the people while they were in danger was obvious in her words.
"For once, the Spartans are going to do the work for us. I'm going to set a trail to lead them to the ship." Kathleen put her weapon up on her back.
"That's an awful big risk of them seeing you. Why not have one of us do it?" Edward made his way down the wharf and met up with Emily, who was waiting for him.
"Because I won't be caught and I know what would catch their attention. Now get to that evac point." Kathleen watched as the two reluctantly nodded.
"Yes, ma'am." The marines then turned and sprinted off through the city to meet up with the other soldiers and the pelican.
Kathleen moved along the wharf until she found the Spartans. The problem with their tactics was that any other Spartan could easily spy on them. She looked across the street from her hiding spot, confident that they couldn't see her. She was purposefully hiding from Spartans while they were on the alert for Covenant. She recognized their leader right away. There was no mistake that it was Joshua. This would make it all the easier.
Kathleen started to set her trail with a set of deep tracks in the mud that would be an obvious sign to any Spartan as they were out of place. She then grabbed the torn-up ODST flag that Max had been using to try to cut off the blood flow from James' severed arm. She attached the flag to a pole out on the dock leading to the cargo ships. She then used her combat knife to reopen the wound on her side, using the blood to draw a quick star that appeared to be made of five swords. She then jumped into the water to be sure she would leave no trail as she headed to the evac point.
Joshua halted his team. He moved along the side of the building to what had his attention. There in the mud was the deep imprint of a Spartan's armored foot. The Spartans hadn't been there yet, though, so there was no reason for why there should be a Spartan print there. It also seemed to be deliberate. It was not on the path a Spartan would take for stealth, fighting, or even wandering. It was also much too deep, like the maker had stomped into the ground to make it.
Red Two moved up behind Joshua. "What is it, Red leader?"
"Someone's left us a marking. Keep an eye open for anything out of the ordinary." Joshua started to look around for any other signs.
"Like an out of place flag?" Red Three moved up to the others. "There's an ODST flag down by the docks. Doesn't seem like that's the right place for it."
"Were ODST deployed to this planet?" Joshua hadn't been informed of any such actions. If they were they should have met up with some, but they hadn't found anyone, only the odd pink aliens that nearly got them in trouble.
"Not that has been reported." Red Two checked over the troop list again.
"Move cautiously." Joshua crouched low and the team moved toward the docks. "Red Three, check for any more signs."
Red Three moved forward the scope of his sniper rifle making it much easier to see along the dock without moving into the open. "I've got a mermaid on one ship, nothing really special, a sprayed-on seagull of a shipping company on another. There's one more marking, but I don't recognize it. It's a star but it looks weird. Looks like it's drawn in blood." Red Three lowered the sniper rifle.
"Let me get a look." Joshua took the sniper rifle and examined the image. "We've found our target. Red Four, you're with me. Red Two, Three, cover us." Joshua moved out to the dock. It wasn't hard to find the civilians inside. It was a bit harder to get them off the planet, but in Spartan fashion they managed it.
Even once he'd gotten back to the ship above as the planet below was glassed, one thought plagued his mind. The only though in Joshua's head was the eagle drawn in blood. It all pointed to something that wasn't possible. Once they'd returned to the ship Joshua made sure Will and Fred hung behind with him.
"What's this about?" Fred looked around to be sure they were actually alone and no Spartans were close enough to hear.
"It's about something down on the planet." Joshua looked around as well.
"There's nothing down there, only a glassed planet." Will crossed his arms over his chest.
"It was there before the planet was glassed, it led me to the civilians." Joshua gave him a cold look. "It was something impossible."
"All right, what is it that you saw on the planet?" Fred frowned. The longer it took the more likely others would interrupt.
"I saw our symbol. Did either of you teach it to anyone?" Joshua looked over the two other Spartans.
"You mean the Spartan signal?" Fred was referring to the six-note song that Spartans used to signal that everything was clear.
"No, our Symbol, our sword star. The one we used back in training." Joshua fidgeted slightly and looked around again. "It was drawn in blood on the ship the civilians were in."
"Are you sure it was our star? I haven't told anyone about that. We haven't even used that since back when we were in training." Fred's frown deepened.
"I am sure. There was even the boot print of a Spartan in an area we hadn't gone to yet. The odd thing was whoever it was used an ODST flag to mark the dock." Joshua shook his head, frowning.
"If it were a Spartan they'd use a UNSC flag. No one who knows our symbol would use an ODST flag." Will looked away from the others. He seemed unsettled by the news.
Have you told anyone about this?" Fred glanced over his shoulder, uneasy.
Joshua shook his head. "Red Team saw it, but you are the only ones I've talked to about it."
"Keep it that way. If you start saying dead Spartans are giving you signals people will think you're insane." Fred took a step toward him to be sure he knew how serious he was.
"Maybe ONI is just keeping something from us." Will shrugged, glancing back at the other two Spartans.
"Why would they keep anything from us?" Joshua frowned and Will could only shrug in reply.
"Now is not the time to be questioning if we can or can't trust ONI. We need to stay focused. Sheila and Kathleen are dead, what you saw will stay between us, and we'll focus on beating the Covenant." Fred took a step back and turned as he heard a noise. He spotted the female Spartan as she stood in the door way.
"Why are you all in here?" Kelly cocked her head into the side quizzically.
"We were just chatting." Fred paused for only a fraction of a second. "We were sharing what we saw on the planet."
"Well com one, Master Chief wants a full report from all of us." Kelly left the room and the three followed her to join the other Spartans.