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Attack on Installation 06, part 6
Posted By: Jake Trommer<wedgefan@comcast.net>
Date: 30 June 2008, 10:31 pm

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Attack on Installation 06
Chapter 6
Halo Installation, Tharidanis system, 2553

      Kline didn't even have time to swear before the Elite was on him.
      The alien warrior roared, all four mandibles outstretched, and thrusted with the sword. Kline hastily sidestepped, knowing he was just buying time, and snapped off a quick shot from his MA5B assault rifle.
      All the shot did was splash off the Elite's shields, and anger the warrior even more. The Elite hefted its sword, and lunged for Kline. The Captain squeezed his assault rifle's trigger, bracing himself for oblivion.
      At the last second, the Captain closed his eyes. A sharp, stabbing pain pierced his stomach, and Kline blacked out.


      Further down the trench system, the round-faced Lieutenant Wilde saw the company commander fall, and froze. Fortunately, Master Sergeant Anselm spotted him, and shoved him to the ground shortly before a plasma round could kill the junior officer.
      "Top!" shouted Corporal Wilks of Fourth Squad, who was pouring round after round into a surviving Grunt file. "They've got reinforcements moving up! What do we do?"
      Anselm didn't hesitate. "Hold the line, goddammit! Don't let a single one of those bastards into the trench!"
      Wilks nodded. "Roger that!" he acknowledged, and continued to pour on the fire.
      Anselm pointed at one of the Marines. "Drake, bring up the HMG! Move it!"
      "Yes Sir!" said the Private of that name, mounting the weapon's tripod on the trench edge.
      "Alright, then, let 'em have it!" barked the Master Sergeant.
      The Marine opened fire, raking the tri-barreled gun across the Covenant forces, spewing out a constant stream of profanity as he did so. Anselm, still surveying his platoon's situation, spared the soldier a nod of approval.
      That was when an Elite decloaked behind the machine gunner, chuckling malevolently. Anselm had barely enough time to yell, "Drake, look out!" before the warrior was on the Marine.
      Drake's M6D sidearm was already out and cracking away. The Elite waited for the Private to expend the magazine on his shields, then lunged. Drake sidestepped, unslinging his M90 shotgun, and unloaded two shells into the creature's head. The Elite dropped like a stone.
      Anselm hefted his MA5B, and emptied the magazine into a charging Grunt file. "Lieutenant? What're your orders?"
      Wilde was huddled against the back of the trench, pistol in hand. He made no reply.
      Anselm shook his head. "Alright, people, hold the line! Use short, controlled bursts, don't waste your ammo!"
      "Sarge!" yelled Sergeant Henderson of Second Squad, "we've got some Jackhammers!"
      Anselm noticed several ominous blue shapes moving in the distance. He swore. "Bring 'em up, let's go!"
      Too late. The approaching Hunters vanished behind the green glows of fuel rod gun rounds. Anselm swivelled to face his platoon. "Cover! Get to cover! Move!"
      The Marines threw themselves flat, but the Hunters were good, arcing their shots so they exploded inside the trenches. A support gunner lugging his ammo back from the firing line vanished when the box took a direct hit and exploded; in the process, the shockwave took out the majority of First Squad. Anselm clutched his helmet against his head, praying that he and his men would make it through alive.
      Incredibly, Second Squad was still standing, launching one Jackhammer rocket after another at the Hunters. Two of the creatures exploded in orange sprays, the worms that made them up flying from their armor.
      Anselm hefted his assault rifle, stumbling over to the firing line. "Report!" he shouted over the platoon frequency, "who's left?"
      Scattered cries came over the comm; Anselm could barely identify the speakers. "First Squad is down, they're all gone!" "Second's holding on---" "Third squad's down by half---" "This is Wilks, I'm all that's left of Fourth---"
      "Alright," said Anselm, speaking loudly to cut over the chatter. "Hold position; they'll be back."
      Lieutenant Delckiss was yelling something over the headset; Anselm forced himself to concentrate. "----back! We cannot hold, everyone fall back to the cruiser now!"
      Anselm surveyed the rest of the trenches, and swore. Fourth Platoon had managed to hold on, but the rest of the defensive line was engaged in close-quarters battle with the Covenant forces. The Warthogs and Scorpions couldn't fire for fear of hitting the defenders; the gunners on the former looked particularly helpless. Everywhere, Marine and Navy personnel were scrambling out of the trenches and running like hell for the Berlin.
      The Master Sergeant clicked on his headset. "Sir, this is Anselm. Fourth is holding on; rally on us, we can hold the line!"
      The voice that answered belonged to Admiral Harsoth. "Negative, Sergeant, fall back to the Berlin. That's an order!"
      The NCO sighed. "Yes Sir. Fourth Platoon, fall back, move!"
      The Marines scrambled from the trench, and made a break for it. All Anselm was concious of was putting one foot in front of the other as fast as he could, and weaving left and right to avoid plasma fire. He barely noticed Lieutenant Wilde's skull being pierced by a beam rifle shot; barely took note of Private Drake, the Marine who had gone toe-to-toe with an Elite and won, being stuck by a plasma grenade. All that he took note of was the distance to the Berlin
      And then he made it. The hangar bay, which was the fallback point for the troops, was packed. Marines, wounded, shell-shocked, and exhausted, milled around the bay, talking, laughing, weeping; Anselm thought they made for an odd contrast with the sterile cleanliness of the hangar.
      Making his way through the bay, he spotted Lieutenant Delckiss, who was tending to an unconcious Captain Kline. The company commander had a pair of stab wounds to his stomach, but they were cauterized, and it looked like he was going to make it. "Lieutenant," Anselm began without regard for pleasantries, "what the hell are you thinking? We could have held on!"
      Delckiss motioned to a mousy-haired medic to keep an eye on the Captain, then turned to look at Anselm. "Sergeant," he replied, "would you follow me?"
      Anselm blinked. "Sir?"
      "Just come with me, Sergeant." Thus saying, the Lieutenant led Anselm to a computer terminal. "Bridge," said the Lieutenant, "please route the view from the orbital sensors to terminal 6774."
      "Wait," said Anselm. "You mean something in orbit caused this retreat?"
      "Yep," nodded Delckiss, gesturing at the image that had popped up on the monitor. "And that's that something."


      That "something" was the Sangheili Fleet of Righteous Retribution, jointly commanded by human Admiral Sir Terrence Hood and Sangheili Fleet Master Rtas 'Vadum from the assault carrier Shadow of Intent. Upon entering the system, the fleet had received a transmission from Admiral Harsoth on the Halo ring. Harsoth informed Hood that his grounded cruiser was under attack, and that his ground troops were vastly outnumbered. Hood offered to land reinforcements, but Harsoth had a plan. At best it was audacious, at worst, suicidal. But it was the only hope for the human forces.
      Fleet Master 'Vadum stood on the blue-lit bridge of the Shadow of Intent, gazing at the ring.The Arbiter's trusted second-in-command, 'Vadum was tall for a Sangheili, a veteran of both ground and fleet operations, as attested by his lack of two mandibles. This feature had given him a nickname amongst the human troops assigned to his command: "Half-Jaw." However, this was meant with the utmost respect, as 'Vadum had shown time and again he had nothing but respect for the scrappy humans, who had been able to withstand the might of the Covenant.
      The Weapons Master of the carrier approached 'Vadum, and saluted. "Fleet Master, the batteries confirm the coordinates are locked in."
      "You have double-checked?"
      "Triple, Fleet Master. The human Admiral insisted upon it."
      'Vadum nodded, still staring out at the Halo. I remember the first time I saw one of the sacred rings, Weapons Master."
      "At Threshold?"
      "Indeed. I was exultant that our religion, the glue that held the Covenant together, was not a farce; that we might truly become Gods."
      The Weapons Master shook his head. "What fools we were."
      "Indeed." 'Vadum shook his head, trying to dispel the memories of old failings. "Begin orbital bombardment, then."
      "Yes, Fleet Master," said the other, and walked to his station.
      As the Weapons Master walked away, 'Vadum silently added to himself, And pray. Pray that we don't kill our brothers.