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Chapter I: Saving the Cairo
Posted By: J-117<gjm_25@yahoo.com>
Date: 3 January 2007, 4:12 am

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Chapter I: Saving the Cairo

0715 Hours, October 20, 2552 (Military Calendar)
Sol System, Earth Defense Platform, Cairo

First and Second teams had reached a room full of eight-foot high data displays, with a large viewport to the left showing the chaos that had now ensued on the three hundred Earth Defense Platforms in orbit. The ODST's could not help but see the Covenant boarding craft approach with it's tri-pronged front, shattering the duraplast glass of adjacent viewports in the hanger bay that was adjacent to their current position. In front of the Helljumpers was a large door, one of two ways to get into the room.

"Second team, find cover against those displays, First team lay a supporting base of fire from those crates in the back" ordered Sergeant Vladimir. Behind them were several crates in varying sizes, which allowed a team of four to climb up onto a first level, and have cover with a second level.

"Sir, why are we stopping here?" asked PFC Andrew Wilson of Second team.

"This spot is a bottleneck. Anyone who wants to access the barracks and Auxiliary Fire Control will have to go through us" responded Corporal Bryce of Second team. A bright light suddenly appeared in the line between the halves of the front door.

"Steady men! They're cutting through, ready grenades on my mark!" ordered Vladimir. Second team grabbed their M9 HE-DP Fragmentation grenades and pressed the red button on the grenade's gray top, however, not depressing it. After twenty seconds, the bright line finished its path to the bottom of the door. The door fell inward.

"Mark!" Five grenades flew towards the door that now exposed several Elites and a multitude of Grunts. Five explosions ensued, throwing gore and screaming Covenant in all directions.

"Second team, fire at will!" Vladimir leaned out from his cover and brought his Battle Rifle up to his shoulder, looking for targets. His sights settled in on a now unfazed Elite, the stunning effect of the grenades now worn off. Vladimir squeezed the trigger, sending a three-shot burst into the Elite's helmet. Brain matter escaped from the back of its skull. The grenades had shorted the Elite's shields.

Bryce leaned out and unloaded his Assault Rifle on an Elite. Its shields shimmered and reflected his rounds; the Elite had escaped the initial grenade barrage. The Elite raised its Plasma Rifle to fire, when its shields failed under the assault of the AR. Several holes appeared on its chest as it collapsed, dead.

Andrew leaned out and targeted several grunts with his BR, issuing several kills in seconds. Seconds after the initial exchange, Covenant reinforcements came in and pinned down Second team behind their cover.

"First team, open fire!" Corporal Mark rose along with his three teammates out of cover and fired on the Covenant. Sounds of sniper and BR fire rang throughout the room, pinning down the Covenant.

"Second team, move up!" Vladimir, along with Second team, moved up and through the door, turning left, facing an Elite and several Grunts. The Helljumpers fired from the hip, being too close to look through their sights. The Covenant never had a chance to fire back, mere seconds later they fell. The Helljumpers were in a small hallway, turning left for five meters then right two, which opened up into the hangar bay; where the boarding craft was anchored.

"First and Third teams, pull up to our position. We're going to need a bit more firepower to take the bay" Vladimir ordered. He went up against the side of the hall and sneaked a look at the open bay. A second boarding craft had attached itself to the adjacent window, providing reinforcements for the ever-growing number of Covenant on the station. In the center of the room was a raised platform which that ran back to the right side of the Bay.

On top of it were two Plasma cannons manned by green-armored Grunts. Both turrets were pointed toward his door. However, at the bottom of the platform were a small pile of fusion cores, which could provide a large enough explosion to cover the squad's entry. Within the bay itself, Vladimir counted five Elites, ten Jackals with shields mounted on their forearms, and twenty plus Grunts. He also saw several large crates which would were big enough to hold all four persons of a team, and they ran front, and to the right, under the platform, with a flanking view of the Covenant now guarding the second craft in the back.

"Alright men listen up" Vladimir whispered. "We've got two cannons covering this entrance, but there are fusion cores underneath them, so a grenade with those should give us enough cover to move in. We use the cargo crates as cover. Number of enemy looks like five Elites, ten Jackals, and twenty plus Grunts. First team, I need to give us covering fire from the front. Second team, take out those cannons on top of the platform. Third team, we're going to move right and flank the Covies. Any questions?" There were none.

"Alright, get ready to move on my signal." All thirteen members of the squad moved themselves onto the wall and into the hallway outside the bay. Vladimir took one of his fragmentation grenades and pressed the red button, arming it. With his back to the wall, he threw the grenade behind himself, pass the entrance. It landed at the base of the pile of fusion cores. The ensuing explosion rocked his bones.

"Go, go, go!" he shouted. The ODST's moved in with the force of the shock troopers that they were. Mark's first team slammed into the first crate, leaned out, crouched, and unleashed a wall of lead on the surprised Covenant. Bryce's second team moved right several steps, killing a few grunts that were stunned by their speed. That reached the third crate, which offered them a close view and angled shot of the cannons. With Bryce's team covering him, Bryce threw a grenade that landed perfectly in-between the Grunts. A second explosion tossed the Grunts over the short rail of the platform and several meters to their bone-crunching deaths. Vladimir along with Max's third team moved right, running, they went around, behind the cover of the crates, under the platform and slammed on the right side of a crate, offering them a perfect view of the now-exposed Covenant flank. Chaos ensued, with lead flowing forth into the group of huddled Covenant, with sparse plasma fire returning.

"Second team, move forward!" Bryce ordered, moving his team forward and stopping just under the platform. "Grenades out!" Seconds later, three grenades flew towards the last remaining Covenant. Purple-blooded gore flew every which way afterwards. All in all, the entire battle had taken no more then thirty seconds. The ODST's were not called shock troops for nothing.

"Men! School circle!" called Vladimir. The men assembled in a circle in the middle of the bay. "Good job, that's the way we do things" he remarked with a grin on his face. He then switched his com unit from TEAMCOM to COMPCOM, and the men switched their com's as well so they could listen.

"Lieutenant Sink, this is Sergeant Kharkenov. We've cleared the Covenant from the barracks section and aft Hanger bay four; requesting sitrep and orders."

Company commander Lieutenant Travis Sink replied "Well Headquarters section is up here in the CIC with Lord Hood. We have our light machine gun section guarding certain key points near the CIC, along with third platoon in fifty meter perimeter, covering all entrance points. Second platoon is doing clean-up of key sections of the Cairo with the battalion of Marines from the 332nd in support doing general. Hold on Sergeant." The transmission cut off.

"Sir, look outside!" PFC Mueller shouted. Vladimir looked out the viewport and his jaw dropped at the sight before him. Out in the distance, the Cairo's sister platform, the Multa, and her other sister platform, the Athens, exploded, sending debris everywhere into space.

"Jesus Christ… how many did we-?" PFC Andrew asked.

"The other two ODST companies in our 2nd Battalion, the other two Battalions of the 332nd Marine Regiment, and the crews of the stations themselves; which amounts up to nearly fifteen hundred souls" Vladimir interrupted. The COM came back on.

"We just got word that the explosions were caused by Covenant-planted bombs, and there is sure to be one here on the Cairo. I'm ordering first platoon to reach Maintenance control near the bottom of the station. I've got all three squads along with Second Lieutenant Strayer approaching it from several directions. Once you reach control, you are to lock key sections of this platform along with caging Covenant-controlled sections as well for the Marines to deal with. One last thing… we're sending the Master Chief after the bomb. He's the closest one to it. I need you to lock sections of the platform so that he has a straight path to the bomb with as minimal resistance as possible. We don't know how much time we have left, and it is imperative that the Chief reaches that bomb. Understood?"

"Yes sir" Vladimir replied.

"Good luck Helljumper, Lieutenant Sink out."

"Alright men, you heard the LT, let's haul ass to Maintenance so we can save the Cairo." The men replied "Oo-rah!" and sped off. That found a hatch that went below the hangar bay and the squad descended into the maintenance passages below. A NAV point appeared on Vladimir's Heads-up Display on his helmet's visor. Their objective was 350 meters fore and to port. The passages that they were in were small, with a height of two-point-five meters and wide enough to allow two men to walk abreast of each other.

"Tactical column men, Bennett, you and third take point; First, take the rear, I'll be with Second" Vladimir ordered. They proceeded down the narrow passage at a brisk pace, albeit carefully, using their Infrared Vision to see in the darkened space. After seventy five meters, Max crouched and raised his left fist, signaling the squad to stop. Vladimir crawled up to the front.

"What's the problem?" Vladimir whispered.

"Twenty meters ahead and to the left sir, a dead technician" Max responded. Sure enough, a bit ways ahead to the left was half-charred remains of a technician, in his hands was a M90 Shotgun. There were also scorch marks on the surrounding wall. There was still smoke rising from the body.

"He's real fresh. That means the culprit isn't that far away… There should be a four-way intersection ahead. I know that to the right is the Armory, and I'm thinking we should load up on some more ammo. Wouldn't you agree Corporal?" Vladimir asked.

"I agree sir." The squad moved ahead once more, this time being a bit more cautious. After another seventy-five meters, they reached the intersection. They checked left, forward, and right. Infrared did not show any hostiles. They then proceeded right, and walked carefully once more. About fifty meters in, there was a loud creak behind them.

Mark turned around, facing the darkness. "Halt! Identify yourself!" he ordered.

A voice replied "Third Squad, First Platoon, E Company; and you are?"

"First Squad, E Company. Jesus, Sergeant Massey, is that you sir?" Third Squad walked into the range of vision of Mark's IR.

"Surprised to find you here Corporal Wahlen; where's Kharkenov?" Sergeant Massey asked. Vladimir appeared beside Mark.

"Glad to see you Kharkenov, hell of a pickle we're in eh?" Massey laughed. Vladimir chuckled along, but then noticed that there were only nine men before him instead of the usual thirteen.

"Yea, no kiddin', what happened to the rest of your men?"

"We got ambushed by a group of Elites a while back, lost all of second team" Massey replied in an almost somber tone.

"Sorry to hear that, listen, let's go stockpile some ammo and get to that control center, k?"

"Already ahead of ya there Kharkenov" Massey laughed again. The re-united squads shared a short chuckle as well. Max was still laughing as he turned around and came face-to-face with a big Elite, who looked as surprised as Max was to see the enemy. The Elite opened the four parts of its jaw and unleashed a battle roar, as he grabbed Max by the neck and slammed him against the wall.

PFC Spencer Wilson grabbed his combat knife and rushed at the Elite holding his team leader. He tried to tackle the Elite and stab it, but the knife and he slid off of its shields; however, the Elite did lose its balance and stumbled. Pissed off, the Elite let go of Max and grabbed hold of Spencer's helmet, and squeezed, slowing crushing the helmet with its strength. By this time, Bryce had run up to their spot and kicked the lower leg joint, which was normally bent backwards. The Elite let up on Spencer's helmet, distracted, and whipped around to knock Bryce down, annoyed that this mere human would distract it from its prize.

Max, having recovered from being choked, kicked the Elite in its back, slamming it against the wall, letting go of Spencer altogether. Bryce, now a bit pissed himself, leapt up with an uppercut, which slid against the shields of the Elite's chest, but ended up connecting under its jaw, making it stagger a step back. The PFC's of the squad took the opportunity and leapt on the Elite, and while they kept on slipping their hands on the shield, they managed to pin it down.

Max kicked the Elite hard in the head. Bryce punched the Elite with a hard right hook. Mark stepped up to the plate, brought his boot up and slammed it hard on its face, breaking two of its jaws. The shields short-circuited from so much abuse. Vladimir then took his combat knife and slammed it into its chest.

He turned back to face Third Squad, which was staring in what Vladimir believed was surprise at them. "And that Helljumpers, is how you take down an Elite in close-range." They all laughed and proceeded forward once more, everybody giving the dead Elite a good kick as they passed by. They made it to the base of the Armory without encountering any more Covenant. Vladimir stopped at a hatch overhead and below the Armory and raised his fist. The squad stopped. He then opened the hatch an inch and peered through; he saw a red-armored Elite and two blue-armored Elites.

Vladimir turned back to the squads and held up three fingers so that the front of them formed a triangle, and then held up three fingers; signaling that there were three Elites above.

Massey contacted Vladimir on his COM. "Can Third Squad take this?" Vladimir nodded, and First squad sat back while Third squad crawled up right under the hatch. Massey counted a few breaths and then slammed the hatch open, letting his squad leap through the opening quick and easy. Vladimir heard the tall-tale sound of BR and AR fire, but he also heard Plasma fire as well. He soon heard screams as well, and shouts for 'medic!' First squad ran up and through the hatch to help, only to discover that the three Elites were dead, but parts of Third squad lay on the floor writhing in agony.

"Shit, I got one dead, and three critically wounded" Massey reported, almost disgusted with himself.

"Take them back to an aid station, First Squad can take it from here" Vladimir said.

"Might as well, since we're half operational anyways. Alright Third Squad, take a man and haul it back to the aid station! Ramirez, you and me take point! Henderson, you have the rear!" Third squad picked up their wounded and proceeded to move out of the Armory through a front door. Massey stopped and looked at Vladimir.

"Give 'em hell Kharkenov." Vladimir nodded. "I will Massey, now haul ass before some more Covies get in here!" Third squad left the Armory.

"Alright men, we don't know what we might face in those passages, so take whatever you can carry, we don't know when the next time re-supply could come if we get deployed, so this is it" Vladimir said. The men grabbed extra grenades, both fragmentation and smoke, along with clips for their weapons. After they were locked and loaded, they proceeded back down the hatch and back-tracked all the way to the intersection, then turned right from their current path onto the original forward path. After 150 meters, they reached another intersection, this time turning left towards the port side of the platform.

Max soon came across a group of ten grunts which had stopped, as the pack leader had sniffed something, something that was wrong. Max slowly brought up his SMG and looked through his sights. The grunts turned around, surprised.

"Ahhh, Human!" they shouted in their high-pitched voices. Third team took them all down with little effort with their SMG's and AR's. They proceeded forward once more, reaching the primary maintenance control center without any opposition. In the ten by ten meter room, there were several chairs, a row of security monitors along with a rather large computer console.

"Do your magic Bennett" Vladimir ordered. Max muttered a 'yes-sir' and went to work. He searched through the monitors to check which sections had Covenant, sealing them off, along with key sections of the Defense Platform. He also saw the swath of destruction that the Master Chief was causing. Max then switched one of the monitors to show the schematics of the station, plotting a course to where the bomb was in Fire Control mentally, and sealed off all side doors of the Chief's path.

"There, that should do it" Max said. "Good job Corporal" responded Vladimir. Max nodded his thanks and checked several other monitors, seeing what he could find. Vladimir reported to Lieutenant Sink.

"Sir, this is Sergeant Kharkenov, we've reached Maintenance Control and finished sealing off sectors and creating a path for the Chief" Vladimir said.

"Good job Kharkenov… You've done the ODST's a great service" Sink replied, almost hesitantly. Vladimir knew something was wrong. "Sir, what's wrong?" he asked.

"The situation has deteriorated more then we thought Helljumper. We were able to destroy one fourth of their fleet, but so far we've lost a third of the MAC Defense Platforms and many of our ships are now nothing more then molten slag" he replied somberly. "We also found out that their flagship has passed through our defenses and is now hovering over New Mombassa in the East African Protectorate." Vladimir took this in with a sigh. It seemed that Humanity was fighting a losing battle for their very survival this time. He then came up with an idea.

"Sir, are we over New Mombassa right now?" Vladimir asked.

"We will be over them in five minutes Kharkenov, why do you ask?" came the reply.

"Sir, First Squad of First Platoon requesting permission to do a combat drop over New Mombassa." Vladimir stated in the no-nonsense clipped military fashion. A short pause occurred.

"Granted, I'll send First and Second platoons down with an additional squad from Third. I'll attach them to Second. You'll be able to be of more help down there then help here."

"What about the remaining Covenant Sir?" Vladimir asked.

"We still have a Battalion of Marines up here, so we'll be alright. Move it Helljumper, there's not that much time left!"

"Thank you Sir, over and out!" Kharkenov said with a grin on his face. "Alright men, let's haul ass to the drop pods, we're jumping feet first!" The men shouted 'Oo-rah!' back with grins of their own. They ran back through the long passage and into the Hangar bay, and then proceeded back past their barracks, where the drop pods were located for First Platoon. Each pod was individually set for each ODST, and drop co-ordinates had already been programmed in from CIC. Vladimir checked that each man was secure and ready to drop in his squad, and then strapped himself into his own HEV. His COM came to life.

"We're coming up over New Mombassa right now men. I'll contact you once you're groundside. Good luck" Sink reported. The drop was being controlled by Sink in CIC. Everybody was ready and good to go. In the CIC, First Lieutenant Sink watched his console as the station was perfectly aligned with New Mombassa.

"Dropping in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Drop commenced."

Sergeant Kharkenov felt his stomach lurch as his pod dropped through the launch tunnel and out into Space. He just hoped that this was not the drop that burned the HEV and killed him. Once he reached ground however, he would face a whole new set of problems…