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Fan Fiction

Forlorn Hope
Posted By: Ian Greenwell<greenwellti@gmail.com>
Date: 24 October 2010, 12:40 pm

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UNSC Military Calendar: July - 7 - 2535, UNSC Colony Alariia.

Borden's drop pod slammed heavily in to the ground, the heavy vibrations rippling through his chest and chattering his teeth. The hatch exploded off, and Borden punched the beacon, so his troopers could find him. He tore his MA5C from his pod and drew up his M6-SOCOM, checking the sights and clips of his weapons with profession ease, slinging them as his pre-battle ritual completed. He glanced up around him, taking in his surroundings with his tactical eye. The nature park they were in was pockmarked with plasma burns and explosion craters, the ground littered with Covenant and Marine corpses and equipment. ONe hell of a fight must have taken place here. He glanced up to see his squad's sniper sidle in next to him.
'See anything worth seeing, Venny boy?' Borden queried.
'We're in a nature reserve,' Venn replied, deadpan.
'Really? I never would have guessed,' Borden quipped.
'We're cut off from the main force, about 3 clicks north-west of original drop zone. We're in a ditch, the only defendable locations are the central tourist building and a hill just over there,' he pointed to the location and continued with a shrug, 'if the Covenant hit this area, we'll be vulnerable and caught in the open unless we find a fixed position.'
Borden nodded and glanced around, activating his TACCOM, 'Sound off.'
'Two okay,' called Acey
'Three okay,' came Hyde's reply
'Four okay,' shrugged Venn
'Five okay,' Mickey drawled
'Six okay,' Doc yelped
'Seven, enigmatic,' groaned Crunch
'Eight, en route,' sighed Siv.
Borden nodded and turned back to Venn. His unit was fine, except Crunch's pod was facedown in the dirt and he couldn't get out. Siv was on the way, so Borden returned to Venn's sit-rep.
'The area is the connection between the main highway and the nature reserve. If the covenant want to move troops and armour between their drop zone and the city proper, they're coming through here. We need to hunker down and get some evac ASAP or we're dead.'
Borden nodded and drew up his trusted assault rifle, Mack, and holstered his SOCOM at his hip.
'We need to gather what weapons and equipment we can and find a long range COM set. Get Hyde and three men to find a working COM and police these bodies. Take Siv and scout the area, see what you can turn up. Send Doc up to the main building and get him to set up a triage point and take inventory on what medical supplies we can muster. I want everyone back here in the next ten minutes, I'll be taking ideas and suggestions.'
Venn nodded and jogged off in toward the closest pod beacon. Borden glanced up toward the city skyline and shook his head.
'What the hell have you got me in to?'

Borden looked out over his assembled squad.
'Find anything you like, boys?' he grinned as he shot his one line briefing.
'We found a working COM on one of the dead marines. We set it up and it's currently scanning for the Colonel's signal,' Hyde jerked his head over toward his COM-set.
'The road is given out and exposed along this buildings right flank,' Venn started, 'The hill is the only real tactical insecurity we have. Mortars set up on the other side would make us vulnerable.'
'We found a large cache of heavy weapons and ammo with the dead marines, as well as dozens of assault rifles. We have nearly 20,000 rounds for the assault rifles, a dozen rocket launchers and something like 200 SPNKr rockets. We also found seven of these,' Crunch held up a large green heavy weapon, 'I think it's a directed energy weapon, for tank killing.'
Borden nodded, 'Do you think we can make use of them?'
'Sir, I think I'm in love. I can't wait to try this bastard out,' Crunch said with a laugh.
'Anything else?' Borden asked
'Sir,' interjected Hyde, 'We have the Colonel on line 1.'
'Idiot,' Borden shook his head and strode over to the COM-set.
'Colonel, this is squad Borden, my unit's hit off target, we're in the nature reserve north east of you position, over.'
'Good to hear from you, Midas, mind telling me what you're doing there, over,' the Colonel's voice came in choppy, the sound of gunfire crackling in the background.
'Unknown, sir, my unit's pods must have malfunctioned. Requesting evac, over.'
'Not now, Borden, we don't have the ships to spare. Covenant banshees are giving us the run around and all my pelicans and hornet's are tied up trying to hold them off while the civies evac, over.'
'Sir, with respect, we'll be next to useless here separated from the main unit. I just wanna earn my hazard pay, over.'
The sizzling of a plasm blast cut through the COM channel.
'...'ve got my own probl...venant forcesare hitt...hold posi....ver,' came the Colonels broken reply.
'Say again, sir, you're breaking up.'
'I said I've got my own problems right now, Covenant forces are encroaching the city limits, and this is just a halting force. I need you to hold position, I'll send evac as soon as I can. I'm sending secure orders to your TACPAD, over.'
'Squad Borden acknowledged, sir, over and out,' Borden grunted with a sigh. He held up his TACPAD while the loading bar dominated the screen. He waved over Hyde.
'Looks like we have to hold here. I think the fights about to get dirty, so get the men set and get this building as secure as you can make it. Any problems, you sing out.'
Hyde nodded solemnly, 'Yes,sir. It's always us,isn't it?' he muttered as he wandered away at a jog.
Borden shrugged to himself and looked over his TACPAD. Two large covenant forces were en route to the city, and Borden's unit was smack bang between one of them and the forces presumed objective. Without air superiority, the Covenant had resigned to moving its troops and armour along the ground and in to the cites through the main highways. It seems it was up to Borden's ODST's to hold off one of those forces, and he had a sinking feeling that's why the unit had been diverted. He shook his head in annoyance as he scrolled through the list of classified tactical data.

Squad Borden assembled in one of the side rooms in the tourist building, only Venn absent from the briefing. Borden looked at his ODST's with a heavy heart. He doubted any of them would survive this hellish mission.
'A large Covenant force is en route. Infantry and armour, intending to go blow the hell out of the capitol just a few clicks away. It seems, my no-good boyo's, that the brass want us to hold them down.'
'What kind of armour, and what kind of troops, sir?' Siv said, his head cocked to one side.
'As far as we can tell, it's mostly grunts and jackals,supported by wraith heavy tanks. Or, at least that's what they tell me.'
'Leadership?' asked Crunch
'Big ape bastards, called Brutes. Covenant heavy infantry, used for their strength and viciousness rather than tactical sense. That's what the Colonels intel suggests,at any rate. that remains to be seen.'
'When's the evac coming?' asked the ever stoic Hyde
'As soon as it can. We just have to hold out.'
'If we just let the Covenant pass...' Doc left it hanging
'We'd be in dereliction of our duty. We're fighting, 'cause that's what we do. It seems to me like a nice day to die, sunny weather, open air and a hell of a light show. Good enough for me.'
The unit gave a grim chuckle.
Borden continued, 'We do what we can, then we get the hell out of here. We're buying time for the population to get the hell out. I, for one, plan to kill every Covenant that comes near here, but that's just me. The marines set us up real nice for weapons, satan rest the poor bastards, and I think we should honour their sacrifice by adding more Covenant blood to the soil. I hear its nutritious.'
The men were silent for a few moments, remembering the faces of the fallen marines they'd buried.
'Right,now, is this place ship shape?' Borden asked
'We've fortified it as best we can, distributed what weapons we have evenly amongst the positions. Our only weakness is the left flank, depending on whether the Covenant have the sense to send wraiths behind the hill to bombard us. The room on the other side is triage, this one one for COMs. I've sandbagged the base of the steps and raised and reinforced the railings with sandbags. there's a central cache of ammo and grenades sheltered under an overturned box at the top of the stairs, so each position can reload efficiently. We're as set as we're can be,' replied Acey, with a grin.
'Right, so we should be set. Siv, Doc, hold the base of the stairs, Hyde and Crunch take the right flank, that's where the armour should be. Mickey, take the left flank and keep low. Venn'll watch the roof, and myself and Acey will watch the forward line. Place those new heavy weapons mostly in the central ammo pile so we can use them as need, but leave at least one with Siv. We clear?'
A grunt of assent followed, before Venn's voice cut through the COM chatter, 'Hate to interrupt the party,but...game on.'

Venn stared out along the dusty reserve road. Several hundred covenant were ambling their way across the dirty, worn path. A mixture of red and orange armored Grunts, and dozens of Jackals wielding plasma pistols and brandishing energy shields. Venn raised his sniper rifle and scanned out across the force. His eyes stopped on a shape he was unfamiliar with. A massive, ape like biped wearing elaborate blue armour and holding what looked like an enormous blade with a small tube attached was kicking it's way through the force, shoving Grunts and Jackals out of the way.
'What the hell is that thing?' whispered Venn to himself, before vaulting off his position and landing in the main buildings observation level. He spun around and found himself face to face with Borden's polarized visor.
'Sarge, what's the good word?' Venn grinned through his now depolarized helmet.
'What's the story, Venn?'
'Bad guys boss. Lot's of 'em.'
Venn followed Borden over to the edge of the unit's sand bagged fortification. The rest of squad Borden filed in behind them in a loose circle, many of them wandering up to look over the sandbags lip.
'Any bright ideas?' asked Borden at large
Venn shrugged, 'I thought you'd never ask. We have two spare snipers, thirty replacement barrels and a lot of bullets. We also have our M6's. They're less than 50 metres away. It'll be like a turkey shoot.'
'Against a force that size?' shot Acey
'When did you start being cheery?' quipped Crunch
'I'm just saying,' Acey replied.
Borden glanced over his shoulder then back at the Covenant force, 'It's all we've got. Acey, take one of the snipers, Crunch grab one of the tube charges and Venn hit the roof. Everyone else, last one to 50 head shots buys the first round.'
Venn turned to Borden, 'I'll kill the big guy, the rest should break under the surprise. They're not that resolute, the little bastards. You call it, I'll shoot it,' as he vaulted back up to the roof and nestled in to his sniper nest. Borden nodded as his squad got in to position along the sandbag line.
'Everyone fire after Venn takes his shot, thems the breaks,' ordered Borden, as he drew his M6 and slung his beloved assault rifle, Mack.

Venn took a moment to settle in to his snipers nest on the roof. He flexed his shoulders and neck as he played his pre-kill ritual. He gently breathed out and let his targeting reticule naturally glide over the enemy leaders head. The bastard was standing in the open, kicking and pushing grunts as they wandered past it. Venn breathed out and emptied his lungs.
The rifle cracked.

Borden grinned inside his helmet and opened fire.
'Kill the bastards,' yelled Borden over the Com.
The second sniper cracked and five M6S's spat their rounds silently across the open reserve. Bullets whacked in to the Covenant. Blue and purple blood squirted out in to the warm air, dozens of bodies crunched in to the dust as the ODST's shots hit home.
'Ease!' yelled Crunch
'Ease!' called the squad as Crunch's rockets barreled across the reserve and slammed in the Covenant line, as fiery explosion tearing dozens more grunts apart in a maelstrom of flame and limbs.
'Come on!' yelled Crunch as he fired again, the squads mouths already open to compensate for the unequal pressure, more bodies flying in to the air as more and more Covenant died in the dusty grass. Borden laughed as he fed off Crunch's enthusiasm. He slid a new magazine out of his ammo pouch as he ejected his now dry clip. He laughed as he slammed it home and continued to fire in to the defenseless Covenant.

Venn fired again and again, his clip running dry as he finally downed the big bastard. His shots had curved around the lateral lines of the creature's armour, energy flaring up as the bullets pinged off. His final shot had blasted out the back of the ape-things skull, taking the Covenant's brain with it. There were still at least a two hundred Covenant still milling around on the dirt road. Venn reached around to get a new magazine as an enormous thunder crack cut through the deluge the ODST's had unleashed. Venn looked up, as his visor filled with bright blue light. A second explosion tore through the hot reserve air. An oddly shaped after image burned itself in to his retinas and he spent almost a full minute trying to blink the light out of his eyes. With his eyes clear, Venn looked out at the carnage. The Covenant force was all but gone. Bodies and blood streaked the road. The massive form of a crashed phantom dominated the landscape, plasma burns scarred the ground.
'Well, that was lucky,' Venn muttered. He tapped his COM, 'We all good?'
Borden's voice coughed its way in to his ears, 'What the hell just happened?'
Venn grinned to himself, 'Downed phantom. Killed most of the bad guys. It's all dead all over everywhere.'
'Interesting,' came the dead pan reply of his squad leader.

Borden pushed himself up form behind the sandbags and looked at where the Covenant used to be. He glanced around at his squad just now picking themselves up from behind the firing line.
'Clean them up,' he told them. He wandered back over to where Venn had jumped down, Acey and Doc following close behind him.
'Some prelude,' mused Acey
'Prelude indeed,' nodded Borden, 'I wonder how long before the next batch of bastards shows up.'
'Yeah, all we need now is a couple more conveniently timed Phantom crashes and we'll get out of this hell alive. Thought of a name for it yet, Sarge?' asked Venn
Borden cocked his head, thinking to himself for a second. He drew off his helmet and scratched his head, 'I was thinking "Forlorn Hope".'
'I like it, it says it all,' laughed Acey, as he tossed the sniper he'd been using on to the ground beneath the sniper's nest.
So what now?' asked Doc, 'How long till our evac shows up?'
Borden glanced over, 'Not the slightest clue. The COM can't re-find the Colonel's radio signal, the sky combat playing hell with the channels.'
Acey looked over his shoulder then back at his fellow ODST's, 'We should police the Covenant's bodies, see what weapons and grenades we can turn up before the next lot of them shows up.'
Borden nodded, 'Crunch and Siv, go see what you can turn up. Acey, hit the roof and give us a yell if you see something. Everyone else get what rest you can, recheck your ammo and re-assume your positions on the line. Get to it, various idiots.'

Borden checked his heads up display. Fourteen minutes had passed since the last Covenant force has passed through the reserve. After a brief clean-up, Squad Borden has reformed in the centre building, lounging around until the word came.
Borden wandered over to Hyde. The Corporal sat fiddling with the Marine COM-set.
Hyde looked, 'Stupid thing won't work for more than a few minutes before interference cuts it up. It's driving me mad.'
Borden chuckled to himself. Stephen Hyde was a brilliant technician. If Hyde couldn't get it to work, the thing sure as sure wasn't going to work. Borden shook his head.
'Just keep working, see what you can do. If you can't figure it out, it doesn't really matter. We still have squad COM and evac will be able to pick it up no trouble.'
Hyde nodded, and smacked the COM-set again, cursing under his breath, his temper getting the best of him.
Borden shrugged and walked over to Venn. Venn sat, delicately cleaning his snipers components. A bent and warped barrel say o the ground next to him, a new one across his lap. He looked up, his eyes cold and empty as ever.
'What's the good word, Gunny?'
'Just walking the line. Seeing what's what.'
Venn nodded idly and resumed cleaning his sniper rifle. Borden watched him for a short while. Lance Corporal Tomas Venn was a scary man. Outwardly calm and able to mesh well, Borden had a sneaking suspicion his calmness and charm was just a very convincing act, his calmness stemming from the fact he didn't care about anything. Borden was just thankful he was a brilliant shot. He had a 99.9% kill rate, a figure almost unheard of in most marksmen. It was a dangerous combination, uncaring and deadly. Scary.
Borden climbed his way in to the snipers nest. Originally a concrete observation platform for two or three tourists at a time, Venn had sandbagged the rails to reinforce it's position, and give himself some decent cover when he was on watch. Currently, the roof position was occupied by the squad's second best sniper, Corporal Alain 'Acey' Slade.
Acey looked over his shoulder, 'Hey boss, what brings you up here?'
'Just walking the line. Seeing.'
Acey nodded then shrugged, 'Nothings going on up here.'
Acey was the squad's close combat specialist, a shotgun leaning up against the wall within close reach. Acey's distant mood was due to his hatred of being a sniper. He was only at home with the enemy at in his face and a loaded shotgun in his hands. Borden shrugged and slid down the ladder. It was no sense worrying about it, Acey was a damn good shot, an excellent spotter and it was his turn on watch. Borden walked over to Mickey.
Private Michael Gohan stood leaning on the sandbags and staring out in to the reserve.
'It's beautiful, isn't it?' he asked.
Borden started at the scarred ground, drop-pods dotting the landscape.
'I don't really see it, to be honest,' replied Borden.
'I always wanted to come to one of these places, see the wildlife. When I finally get the chance the Covenant ruined the damn place. It's a real shame,' sighed Mickey.
Borden nodded slowly and leaned up next to the Private. He stood staring out for a while.
'When are the next lot coming in?' asked Mickey at length.
'I don't know. We'll see when we see, I suppose,' Borden replied.
Mickey nodded, and Borden pushed himself back off the sandbags. He stared out again for a second then turned his back, leaving Mickey to his reverie and heading for the stairs.
Borden vaulted down the brief flight of stairs and landed awkwardly between Doc and Siv.
'Good day, lads,' he said as he tried hard not to fall over.
'Sarge,' nodded Siv.
'Borden,' laughed Doc, 'It's always an entrance with you isn't it?'
'Hey, why do think I joined the ODSTs? Nothing says entrance like being shot from space in a dangerous pod in to a combat zone.'
Doc shrugged and grimaced over at Siv.
Borden looked around. The Gap between the two sections of the building where the stairs was had been sandbagged off and a single machine gun turret set up at its centre. It gave a commanding field of fire and was a formidable fortification.
'What are you guys talking about down here,then?' Borden asked after surveying the line.
'Home,' said Siv and Doc simultaneously.
Borden nodded to himself. Private Alexander Silver and Private Oan Reynolds shared the same homeworld, though they each came from different sectors and Doc was 10 years Siv's senior. Siv came from rural areas, hunting being as much a profession as a past time which made him a fantastic scout, and Doc from the built up industrial areas, a university education bringing him his Doctorate.
Borden surveyed them both, Oan sitting on the stairs, Siv leaning up against the sandbags.
'Well,I'll leave you boys to it,' he said after a while, not wanting to interrupt a personal conversation. Borden wandered back up the stairs and looked around. He noticed Crunch standing along the right sandbag position fiddling with one of the green heavy weapons he'd found in a crate. Private William Sullivan, Crunch to most people, was a dangerous man with heavy weapons. He could destroy almost anything flawlessly. IT contrasted his bright, cheery, no temper personality. He meshed well with everyone, a boyish charm and charism oozing from his goofy smile.
'Having fun?' quipped Borden as he reached where Crunch stood.
'Damn thing is fiddly and keeps smart-linking with my helmet's display!' he looked up with an idiotic grin.
'Fair enough. Figured out how to use the thing?'
'Well, it's heavy like a bastard, capable of five shots and has a really long charge time,' Crunch returned to fiddling with the weapon.
'Doesn't sound like a practical weapons, then?' Borden asked with a frown.
'Are you kidding? This thing can kill you nine times before you know what's hit you with one shot. I'm not sure, but I think I can blow a wraith to hell in one shot with this thing!' Crunch replied brightly, his smile infectious
Borden laughed, his frown melting in to a childish grin, 'Bet you wish you had some bad guys to grease right about now.'
'You bet your sweet arse, Gunny, damn alien bastards don't have a hope in seven hells!' Crunch's smile seemed to get bigger as he said this.
Borden looked around, seeing Crunch's helmet on the ground. It had a the grinning visage of a skull carved and painted with detail around the visor. It was an irony that Crunch's helmet bore such a grim image, when he himself was about as far as grim could get. Borden shook his head and wandered over to the leading edge of the sandbagged building, staring out in to the corporate reserve. It was hard for him to believe there was a war on, so peaceful this place was.

Venn stared at the entrance to the Reserve. Dust was billowing from the metal and stone entrance with alarming violence.
'Well shit,' muttered Venn as he switched up his sniper and scoped the cloud. A group of seven unknown Covenant vehicles were speeding in to the Reserve. Four large JOTUN/ motorbike hybrids with massive wheels that look designed for shredding powered in, followed by three tube like vehicles that look more like they were designed for ice combat that the current terrain due to skids on either side were plowing in behind them. Venn did a quick glance of the TACPAD intel. Choppers and Prowlers respectively. Venn switched his COM on, 'Sarge, we have a big bad brute problem. Suggest we go to arms.'
'Acknowledged. Force strength?'
'Sir, Choppers and Prowlers, and Brute and Jackal infantry following them up.'
'Attack pattern?'
'Flying wedge, infantry spreading out on the road, moving toward the crashed phantom. I think they're looking for cover, this place is damn open. One unit, strength seven, moving toward the left flank.'
'Acknowledged,' replied Mickey in a bored voice.
'What's the bet I can get two vehicles with this Galilean rifle of mine,' yelped Crunch
'I'll take that,' came Siv's challenge, 'My hazard pay and a round of drinks that you can't.'
'I don't drink, you frag faces moron,' came Crunch's angry retort
'Exactly,' laughed Siv.
That's when the shooting started.

Mickey flung himself behind the sandbags as plasma fire ripped past his head, occupying the space he himself had occupied a second before. The seven Brutes were standing in the open, firing their plasma and spike rifles at him with blatant arrogance. Mickey swung low and let off a protracted burst from his MA5. The bullets pinged and slid off the armour of the big bastard leading the unit, his spike rifle walking its rounds towards Mickey's position. The red hot glowing projectiles embedded in the wall and cover as Mickey swung low and back around, firing tight controlled bursts at his foe. Mickey grabbed two grenades, carefully priming them, then standing up and tossing them over his position. He ducked down and the satisfying whump-crack of the grenades went off in front of him. He ducked around, this time pointing his M6/s, firing off tight, accurate burst, detonating the skulls of the three Brutes without armour, throwing himself down before they could return fire. Mickey grinned to himself, muttering his his combat-high, 'All too damn easy.'
Venn tracked Brute and Jackal infantry and they brazenly marched out across the Reserve dirt roads towards the downed Phantom. He laughed as his sniper's rifle cracked again and again, skulls bursting and armour shattering as his bullets found their mark. Jackals and Brutes fell as his deadly rounds killed and killed. He saw Jackals falling from a different angle and switched to his COM, 'Right, who's kill-stealing?'
'That would be me,' came Acey's jovial reply
'Oh, are we not supposed to be?' Hyde's voice heavy with sarcasm.
Venn laughed to himself and resumed shooting, picking off the Brutes with the most armour and wasting and Jackal that happened to cross his sight.
He sighed and muttered to himself, 'It's like a damn turkey shoot.'

Crunch hefted his heavy weapon, resting it's large weight across his muscled shoulders.
'Come on, come on,' he murmured under his breath as the Brute vehicles swam in and out of his targeting range, unwilling to take any chances with missing. He watched as Prowlers sped past, presumably to drop off their Brute cargo at the base of the stairs, Siv and Doc's position. His heart leapt as he saw a chopper and a trailing Prowler overlap in a dangerous and mis-thought attempt at racing each other. He laughed as he switched his weapon over to them and laughed in to his COM, 'Guess who owes me money, you bastards!'
The laser shuddered heavily as it fired, the two close vehicles detonating in a spectacular display of explosive firepower. Crunch glanced around to see Acey look up at him, depolarizing his visor to give an ear-to-ear grin to his fellow ODST. Crunch switched back to the battlefield to see an apparently dumbfounded Brute in elaborate cyan armour stop, and quickly go down to a succession of sniper shots. Crunch opened his COM again, 'That counts as mine, Venn. Sure as Sure.'

Spiker fire tore past Siv as the heavy machine gun vibrated in his hands, shell casings spilling out across the ground. Brute armour flared and sparked as the bullets dragged across their bodies. Siv yelled obscenities as the massive Brutes walked inexorably closer to the sandbagged position. Siv could feel the heat of the plasma and spikes as it ripped in to his head and glanced off his armour. Siv laughed as one of the Brutes, the large bastard stupid enough to lead, was brought to his knees as his armour crack and machine gun rounds drew plumes of blood from its hairy, muscled body.
'Arrogant alien freaks!' yelled Siv over the chaos
'You bet your sorry arse!' called Doc in return, firing his M7S in tight, controlled bursts. His gun clicked empty as a Brute threw a massive stick like grenade at him. Doc threw himself down as the explosive device lodged in to the wall and detonated. Doc pushed his head as spikes, broken masonry and shrapnel tore up the ground around him. Doc looked up as a cry of pain issued from Siv, and Doc watched as the ODST was thrown backwards in a cloud of blood and dust, Brutes laughing in triumph.
'Line breaker!' yelled Doc as he pulled up M6S, firing wildly at the advancing aliens.
'Ease!' the COM crackled in his ear as a massive Brute chopper ground past the position. A massive explosion enveloped the vehicle in fire, the shock wave of the blast throwing wreckage and brute body parts in to the air. Doc watched in morbid fascination as one of the massive bladed wheels spun through the air, wreathed in flame. Doc cocked his head, staring as the wheel crashed in to one of the brutes, cracking it's armour and separating its upper and lower bodies in a grizzly display of wartime luck. Doc looked around as a grenade spun slowly through the air, bouncing in amongst the now reeling Covenant. A cloud of dust and shrapnel erupted from the grenades resting point, as MA5 bullets vomited forth from the top of the stairs. The remaining Brutes died in a hail of lead, flame and hot metal as Borden vaulted down the stairs, firing his weapon. Borden looked over at Doc, still in a pile on the ground, and yelled something Doc couldn't hear. Doc dragged himself along the blood stained ground over to Siv. A spike had lodged itself in the flesh of his bicep, shattering the armour and spilling red fluid along the base of the stairs. Siv was mercifully unconscious and Doc ripped the spike from the flesh, explosions and the crackle of gunfire giving Doc's grizzly work a deadly backdrop. Doc grabbed a can of bio-foam and plunged the polymer in to the open wound, now bleeding profusely. Doc threw himself over Siv as another massive shockwave blasted itself over the two ODST's. Doc spun himself around, grabbing Siv by the arms and dragging his heavy form up the stairs. He threw down his comrade and grabbed his SMG, reloading it as he vaulted back down the stairs to cover his squad leader.

Borden looked out over the chaos of the of the battleground. Brute bodies and vehicles were strew across the ground, the dust and grass stained black with blood. He turned away from the carnage and walked over to Doc, kneeling beside the now conscious Siv.
'How you doing?' asked Borden, kneeling next to his scout.
'I've been better, sarge, let me tell you,' grinned Siv.
'He's lost a bit of blood, a little whacked on painkillers, but he'll be alright,' Doc said, looking around.
Borden nodded, 'Unlucky us, hey,' he joked with a warm smile.
Siv nodded and tried to push him self up, and Borden offered his hand. Siv dragged himself up, picking up his helmet.
'What are we going to do? the stairs are ruined, and we won't be able to hold them for much longer,' said Doc, picking himself up and wiping his armoured hands clear of blood. Borden nodded to himself and glanced around the now torn up position. Sandbags and masonry had been blown loose, plasma burns lacing the area, and glass stains from the melted roof pockmarking the ground of the building. He scratched his, then shook it.
'We can't hold out hear much longer. We're going to get slaughtered before long,' he mused to himself. He looked over at Siv and Doc.
'Set up the machine gun at the top of the stairs, to give us a fire zone for us the catch any aliens in the open on the stairs. Sandbag the stairs, make it part of the line. We'll have your back. Siv, switch with Hyde on the line, you can load for Crunch and Acey. Hyde can take the gun. Doc, you can take support, we'll need your skills on the move. I'll hold the stairs with Hyde. Gather what weapons you can from the corpses. We'll need the firepower.'
The COM crackled in Borden's ear, 'There might not be time for that, Gunny, Business is here,' Venn's voice full of a dry cynicism.
'Shit,' cursed Borden, 'Get to it, marines, here comes the hell!'

Borden vaulted up to the snipers nest, coming to a staggering rest next to Venn. The ODST sniper was tracking his sniper rifle across a massive force of Covenant infantry and armour, killing snipers with mechanical precision. Borden stared in horror. Over six hundred Brute and Grunt infantry were swarming in to the reserve, breaking down in to component squads with a precision Borden hadn't seen from Brutes yet. Following the infantry wave were ten blue sheened Wraith main battle tanks, and at least a dozen of the vicious Chopper bikes, spreading out to encroach the heavily damaged UNSC position.
Borden snapped himself back in to action, keying his COM as he jumped back down, 'Crunch, kill every tank you see. Acey, take a sniper. Everyone else, leave nothing but bodies to mourn. Kill like it's a hell of a day to die!' Borden yelled as he slid in next to the battered marine COM set.
'Colonel! pick up you bastard! This is Squad Borden! Answer!' he screamed in to the COM set.
The mic crackled with static for a few minutes as Borden stared at it, lost in a desperate fury.
'Borden, I just need you to hold out a little while longer,' came the washy reply of Borden's commanding officer.
'Dammit no! We're out of time! We need reinforcements! Now, god damn it, now!' the Gunnery Sergeant yelled. Borden waited for a second, his whole world occupied by the battered radio.
The COM went dead.
Borden drew up his pistol, emptying the magazine in to the electronics in fury. Borden stood up and screamed at the sky. He stared at the Covenant army, picking up his MA5, Mack, with calm precision. Fury over came him, his world a red haze. Time to kill. Time to kill.

Crunch fired the laser, the massive weapon shuddering in his hand. Spikes and plasma shots rushed past his head, the heat washing over him. Another wraith exploded in a terrific display of raw power. He laughed the laugh of a man with no hope. He snarled as he tracked a Brute Chopper, charging the weapon as he took aim. The weapon shuddered again, a dozen grunts vanishing with the Chopper, blood rushing in to the grass. Crunch laughed again, tossing the spent weapon aside and drawing up his M6S. He dragged the reticule across another batch of grunts, precise head shots exploding jaws and blowing open skulls, a gory fountain of viscera punctuating his hopeless laugh. Crunch fired. Again and again.

Hyde tore the machine gun across the Grunt and Jackal platoon attempting to advance up the stairs. Hyde grunted as more and more Covenant aliens vanished in clouds of blue and purple blood, the high calibre shells leaving very little of the enemy soldiers left. Hyde's hands were numb from the vibrating, reflecting his heart and mind as he switched off to the world around him, becoming nothing more than high speed, high calibre death. Death. All he was and all that was coming for him. Like a tidal wave of pain, plasma gushed past his kneeling form. A dozen burns scored his armour, his mind acknowledging that he was in severe pain. Yet still he killed. Blood. Pain. Death. All he was and all that was coming for him.

Doc watched in terror as Mickey was thrown back in a spectacular spray of blood. His body landed limply, seven spikes sticking out of him, from limbs, chest and stomach. Mickey screamed in pain, Blood staining the tiles he was writhing on. Doc threw himself down next to the wounded ODST and his heart went cold. Mickey was dying. Losing so much blood. So much pain. Doc was frozen in quiet fear. How could they stop this? They were already dead. Mickey heaved and wretched, more blood spilling from his open wounds, dragging Doc out of his reverie. Doc ripped spikes out, filling the wounds with Bio-Foam and stims. Doc ran his hand over Mickey's face, wiping blood clear from his cheeks and eyes.
'Stay with me Mickey, stay with me. You're not dying. No way in hell, stay with me. Stay with me,' Doc yelled at the barely conscious trooper. Mickey's eyes drifted out of focus and his breathing slowed.
'Dammit, no! No! No!' screamed Doc, plunging adrenaline straight in to the wounded man's heart. Mickey heaved and wretched, spitting blood in a painful fountain from his mouth. Doc yelled in futility as more and more plasma ripped past, massive explosions tearing the roof and building asunder. They were Dead. They couldn't stop this. Dead.

Siv slammed another rocket pack in to the launcher, swinging himself up over the lip of the sandbags.
'Ease!' he yelled in to the chaos, a small act of comfort in a fluorescent blue hell. The rocket streaked from the tube, a cloud of flame enveloping a group of Brutes and Grunts. Siv fired again as limbs and blood shattered out from the explosion. More Covenant detonated outwards in a chaotic fury, the image of violent death playing across Siv's retina and burning in to his memory. He tossed the tube aside and ripped up his M7S, bullets pulling puffs of blood from his enemies. He screamed a killers scream as he dragged the weapon back and forth.
'Die! Die! DIE!' he screamed as he murdered, brutalized his enemy. Hope had left the Reserve, left the ODST's and left Siv. Now he killed. Killed and maimed and burned. A violent smile played itself across his face. The smile of a man with nothing left to lose, the smile of Lucifer. The smile of a killer.

Acey laughed as his weapon clicked dry, dozens of bodies and litres of blood to his name. He laughed as enemies detonated and were torn asunder in the concussion of a grenade. He laughed as plasma burned his foes, tore their bodies to glass as so many humans had been turned to glass. He laughed and laughed and laughed.
He laughed as the air left his lungs.
He laughed as plasma struck his chest.
He laughed as he was thrown to the ground.
He laughed as darkness took him. He laughed. And laughed.

Borden screamed as Mack crackled in his hands, the MA5 spitting death in to the ranks of the encroaching Covenant. Borden spat with sadistic satisfaction as bodies went down to his vicious fire power. Borden killed for every planet he'd seen die. Every innocent who'd lost their life. Every Comrade he'd seen fall. Every friend he'd lost. He killed for his race. He killed because it was all he could do in the face of a hopeless war. A bleak sadness sobered his bloodlust. They were losing. They were dying. Every step of the way. Billions were dead. Billions more would die. They would all die. And there wasn't a thing he could do. Nothing, but die. Kill and die. Borden screamed again, his blood lust renewed. He stood up right, daring them to kill him. Kill him as he killed them. He fired again and again. His scream of fury turned to a hopeless laugh. A laugh he'd been hearing all day. The squad's laugh. The dying laughs of his men. Borden laughed at the top of his lungs. Covenant bodies spilled across the landscape, so many dying to slay his thirst for death. Borden smeared blood across his visor. Death. Death incarnate. He laughed.

Venn's sniper rifle cracked. Brutes fell again and again. Gold and Cyan armour cracking. Brains vomiting forth. Blood leaking in to the soil. Bodies falling. Venn snapped his weapon backwards and forwards. With a cold, calculated precision he killed. Brute leaders. They died in droves as Venn fired every last shot he had. He had long passed the point of caring. A lifetime ago his heart had died, his warmth and humanity dying with it. It gave him comfort to know it would end. Sooner or later, the plasma bolt or spike that would end his life. He knew this, understood it as inevitable. He killed because it was what he did. He killed because it was all he had. All he was. Murder. Cold, clinical elimination of the most strategically valuable targets. Venn's sniper rifle cracked. He pulled the trigger again, the chamber dry. He tossed his best friend, his weapon, aside. He pulled up his pistol, resuming firing with the same efficiency. He tagged grunts and jackals and unarmoured brutes, skulls bursting, entrails spilling forth. The ground stained with blood.
Heat washed over Venn. Glass hissed and melted next to him, the roof near his snipers nest boiling under the force of a Wraiths plasma mortar. He looked up. A blue ball of death moving inexorably toward him. The world slowed down. He turned in slow motion, throwing himself clear of the snipers nest. Heat washed over him again as the space he previously occupied engulfed in deadly plasma. He landed heavily on the glass. He heard a crack and plummeted again, the glass shattering beneath him and throwing him heavily to the buildings floor. He groaned as blood squirted across the inside of his helmet and the glass covered ground beneath him. Pain washed over him. An eternal sadness burnt in his heart as blackness took him. The sadness boiled and burnt, his cold heart warm for the first time in his life. Happiness engulfed him as darkness took him. For one last instant, he was human again.

A massive explosion ripped across the tumult of the reserve. Wraiths burst in massive showers of plasma and shrapnel. Choppers vanished in flame and fury. Grunt platoons exploded in showers of gore and fire. Brutes were torn to shreds. Jackals vanished in pustules of gore. The Covenant died. And Died. And Died. Warthogs threw themselves in to the reserve, Gauss cannons spitting death, Chain-guns ripping enemies to pieces. Scorpions grumbled behind them, vomited high explosive death in to the reeling Covenant army. Marine platoons fanned out in disciplined groups, fire teams leap-frogging each other, fields of fire cutting down Covenant infantry. Rockets streaked, blowing apart Brute armour and infantry. An enormous cacophony of hell was unleashed on the Covenant. Vengeance and fury cut a bloody swathe through the enemy force. Squad Borden took no part in newly unleashed offensive, Covenant forces retreating and dying as UNSC forces advanced to relieve the ODST unit.

Borden staggered down the stairs, hands stemming what bleeding he could, as the warthog pulled up. A marine major jumped out and saluted Borden. Borden collapsed backwards on to the stairs, an awkward sitting position relieving his exhausted body.
'Wounded, up there,' He jerked his hand behind him as a half dozen marine medics sprinted past him. The major knelt down new to the wounded Gunnery Sergeant.
'You did good,son,' he muttered, 'We're here to push the Covenant back and get your unit out of here.'
'Where's, Colonel?' Borden managed
'Pushing the Covenant back on the other side of the evac zone. A pelican's here to pick you up. Can you walk?'
Borden shook his head. He managed a weak smile. And passed out.

'We did ok, Midas,' groaned Hyde from the next bed.
'Maybe,' shrugged Venn from across the room
'four hundred confirmed kills, not mention all the armour we took out,' said Doc, sitting on the edge of the bed. Doc was the only one who'd made it out without serious injuries. Mickey was the worst. He was recovering from micro surgery and had needed a new liver and right lung. He was unconscious two beds over on heavy painkillers.
'We saved them. The civilians. They made it out.'
'Small victory,' said Venn, leaning back and closing his eyes. Venn had needed surgery to remove glass from his chest and reset his rib cage. It was a miracle he was able to talk after so little recovery time.
Borden nodded, lost in thought. They'd won. Won despite over whelming odds. On the ground, at least. Thousands had still died, and the world had been glassed. But they'd won. Borden's unit were being publicized as heroes amongst the battle group. ONI propaganda spinning it as a near mythical battle. Despite Borden's unit nearly being destroyed in the process. Borden leaned back. Lives for time. Feet first in to Hell.
Borden smiled to himself. He closed his eyes and fell unconscious. Feet first in to Hell.