Posted By: GLADIATRRR3000<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 16 February 2006, 2:55 am
Roberts was still asleep. He had been sleeping for several hours now, and it was almost time for his shift to begin anyways. He rolled onto his back and snored so loudly he woke himself up. Disoriented for a moment, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. In one motion, he put his feet into his combat boots and stood up, stretching his back and arms.
Looking out the window, he figured it was around 0500, though it was often hard to tell through the fog and mist of the swamp. Smelling breakfast, his stomach growled. His bunk was close to the main hall of the installation, near the mess hall. Remembering the promise of ham and potatoes to the first Marines in line, he started walking faster. When he entered the mess hall, he was disappointed to see at least 200 people already eating. Shrugging off the disappointment, he stepped into line.
After several minutes, he was handed a bowl of lukewarm oatmeal and an artificially grown apple. Looking around, he found Johnson, who waved him over to the seat next to him. He sat down across from Johnson, who was reading the Weekly Battle Update. "Dammit." Johnson said, taking a gulp of his cup-of-soup. "Looks like we lost Centauri VI. I went on vacation there once. Good fish." He turned the page. "Ah, I'm in this damned paper again." He turned the paper so that Roberts saw the headline Crazed Marine Makes a Scene under the Local section.
Roberts snorted into his oatmeal. "The doctor was making moves on me, I swear." Johnson said. "Asked me to get naked. I don't swing that way."
you were probably taking your physical." Roberts said, finishing off his oatmeal and taking a bite out of his apple. "Anyway, what's our job today?"
Johnson kicked back his chair, picked up his tray, and threw it onto a table nearby. "I got Peters to do our usual patrol through the swamp. Had to give him a pack of cigarettes to convince him. And don't worry, he said he'd cover the paper work. We're taking his job; we're guarding the door to the control room. Easy enough."
Roberts threw his apple core into the garbage and followed Johnson back to their bunks. They put on the rest of their uniforms, grabbed their weapons, and started walking towards the control room, a quarter mile away. They passed through a security checkpoint, answering some basic questions. They reached the control room around 0530. Johnson put his hand onto a green panel, which quickly read his fingerprints. Verifying that he was taking over for Peters, it let out a pleasant ding noise, and the 6-inch metal door opened.
Colonel Anderson was busy staring at a control panel, casting a faint blue hue onto his face. He turned when he heard the hissing noise of the door, and cracked a smile. "Ah, Johnson! Roberts! Good to see you!" He said. "Peters told me you'd be taking over for him today."
"Good to see you, too." Johnson said. "It's good to be inside at this time for a change. Usually we get up and the next thing we know we're ankle deep in shit."
Anderson laughed and waved them inside. The doors closed behind them, hissing shut. Anderson's smile left his face and his tone drastically changed. "No doubt you've heard that we lost Centauri VI. That planet is in a system not far away, which means that the Covenant has almost certainly intercepted Centauri's last messages. Now, assuming they have, that means we have to raise our warning level. From now on, we have to be on our guard."
Roberts nodded. The door hissed open behind him and the faint smell of perfume wafted into the room. He knew who was there without having to look. "Hello, Michelle." Roberts said in a very unwelcoming voice.
"That's Sergeant Hulley, Private." The woman said with authority, stepping into the room. "Colonel." She said again in a much softer tone, nodding at Anderson.
"Hello, Michelle." Anderson said. Roberts heard Johnson chuckle softly. "Roberts, Johnson, please wait outside."
Roberts saluted and stepped out the door. When the door shut behind him, he exhaled sharply. "Jesus
what a bitch." Johnson laughed. "None of the women I slept with treated me like that afterwards. Then again, I never called them afterwards."
"Listen, I'd appreciate it if you didn't talk about it, since both me and Michelle could get in a lot of trouble if anyone found out." Roberts said, not looking at Johnson.
"Well, I found out and nothing happened. Hell, I walked into the damn room when
" Johnson said, laughing, until a loud noise interrupted him.
The normal lights dimmed, replaced by a bright, red, and flashing light. An alarm blared out of speakers on the ceiling. "Warning. Warning. Incoming Covenant Phantoms. All personnel to their stations. This is not a drill."
The door to the command center opened. Sergeant Hulley ran out, face filled with fear. "Roberts, Johnson, follow me." She said, motioning down a hallway. Roberts ran after her, grabbing his MA5B. They ran through several more corridors until they met up with another group of Marines. Letting them down a tight hallway first, Hulley motioned to Roberts and Johnson to stop for the moment. "Colonel Anderson was able to knock one Phantom out of the sky with ground-to-air missiles. It wasn't destroyed, however, and it crash-landed in a clearing several kilometers to the north. The 4 other Phantoms behind it followed it to the crash-site. We're expecting a full-on invasion within the hour, but we don't know why the preliminary attack force was so small."
The other group of Marines ran by, and Hulley motioned for Roberts and Johnson to follow. "We're getting into a 'Hog and going to the crash-site now." She yelled over her shoulder. They reached a large room, filled with dozens of Warthogs and a handful of Pelicans. One Pelican lifted off the ground and flew through a large opening in the ceiling. A large metal plate quickly closed the opening behind the Pelican. Roberts jumped into the passenger seat of a Warthog. Hulley got into the driver's seat, and Johnson grabbed the gauss turret.
The engine revved, the tires screeched, and the Warthog jumped forward, accelerating quickly. They went up a slight incline, and the ground changed from silver-metal of the station to the dark greenish-brown color of the swamp floor. They quickly covered the 5-kilometer distance on a man-made trail winding deep into the swamp. Leading the convoy of Warthogs, Roberts' vehicle turned sharply off the trail and into a small clearing on one side of the road. Several hundred meters ahead was smoking wreckage of a burning Phantom, accompanied by 4 beaten-but intact- dropships. "The Pelican reported no signs of enemy movement, so they must be inside the dropships!" Hulley yelled, listening in on the earpiece in her helmet.
The Warthog stopped suddenly, fishtailing to a stop a hundred meters from the landing site. Roberts, his side of the Warthog facing the Phantoms, jumped out of his seat, ran around the car, and steadied his rifle on the front of the vehicle. Johnson aimed his turret at the crash-site, looking side to side for any movement. Seconds later, the other Warthogs caught up and formed a line, creating a makeshift cover for the 2-dozen Marines. After 8 turrets and 16 rifles were all aimed at the Phantoms, Hulley motioned Roberts forward.
Roberts inched forward, followed closely by another private. Aiming down his sights, Roberts had tunnel vision. Though he couldn't see behind him, he waited until he heard several sets of footsteps catch up with him before he continued to move on. Walking toe-heel, he quickly moved up to the side of the nearest Phantom. The gravity lift on the Phantom was sparking, and it no longer had the bight blue-purple color it has while operating, though it was still holding several small rocks several inches off the ground. The back of the Phantom had been blown off, creating an impromptu ramp. Leaning against the side of the broken panel, Roberts motioned for someone to move to the front of the ramp. A marine with a shotgun swirled around the corner, weapon ready. A second later, he said "Clear."
"Roberts, secure this Phantom while the rest of the squad continues on." Hulley barked. Roberts climbed up the ramp, weapon still ready to fire.
He moved inside and instantly noticed the stench. Never, in all the years of training and all his encounters with the Covenant, had he been prepared to deal with a stench this terrible. Pushing it out of his mind, and breathing through his mouth, he continued on. Moving through the cargo area, he broke through the door to the cockpit. There were no bodies, but a greenish slime covered all the walls. "This Phantom's clear." He said into the microphone on his helmet.
Lowering his rifle a little, he moved out of the cockpit and more closely examined the cargo area. Still breathing through his mouth, he realized that he could taste the stench. Kneeling down and holding his mouth to suppress his gagging, he noticed the ground was covered in greenish colored flaps of flesh. Picking one up, a thick pool of slime was left where the flap originally lay down. Looking around, he saw a broken Plasma Rifle and multiple burn marks on the ground and walls. The bigger portion of the Plasma Rifle leaned against a small purple container. Moving towards it, the container shook, creating a large banging noise.
"Whoa, I've got a possible enemy here!" He yelled. Several marines, along with Johnson and Hulley, ran up the ramp and joined Roberts, who was aiming his rifle at the container.
Pop it open. If anything comes at us, we'll put it down." Hulley said. A marine moved forward, pressed a glowing button on the container, and moved back as a small door swung open. A Covenant Elite fell out, purple blood flowing out of multiple gashes in its skin. Johnson kicked its arm with his boot, and the elite twitched. "It's alive!" Hulley said. "Quick, warn the medics back at base, we're bringing this back as a POW."
Roberts had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.