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Attack on Installation 06, part 09
Posted By: Jake Trommer<wedgefan@comcast.net>
Date: 31 July 2008, 12:41 am


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Attack on Installation 06
Chapter 8
0950 Hours, July 09, 2553 (Military Calendar)
Tharidanis System, Installation 06

      Gunnery Sergeant William Reynolds' COM headset crackled to life, blasting static into the dozing Gunny's ear.
      Reynolds, along with the rest of the Marine contingent inside Pelican Kilo 023, had finally succumbed to the need for some shuteye before the hard drop onto the ringworld's surface; Admiral Hood, mindful of the soldier's need to get sleep whenever possible, had assured Reynolds that he would wake them when the time had come.
      "Will?" came the twang of Pete Stacker's voice. "Will, get your ass down here, we need reinforcements, now!"
      Reynolds' eyes snapped open. "Roger. Hocus! Let's roll!"
      "Roger that," came the voice of the female Pelican pilot. "Stand by. Hard drop commencing."
      The floor underneath the Pelican retracted into the surface of the cruiser, the docking clamps released with a jarring thud, and the Pelican-Phantom squadron was en route to the Halo ring.
      Reynolds yanked the charging lever his assault rifle. "Alright, people," he began, addressing the Marine squad, all of whom were now fully awake. "Gunny Stacker's Helljumpers have run into trouble at the LZ; we're going to help them out. Alright?"
      The rest of the Marines seated in Kilo 023's troop bay let out a chorus of "Oorah!", the age-old rallying cry of the UNSC Marine Corps.
      Hocus' voice came over the Pelican's intercom. "We're in the ring's atmosphere, popping the hatch now." She suited action to words, the two-part hatch at the rear of the troop bay hissed open, revealing a dusty, brown-colored plateau, bracketed by a crashed Marathon-class cruiser at one end, and a Covenant encampment on the other. Gold, blue, and green streaks, no doubt plasma and gunfire, streaked across the Covenant base, intersecting with blue, red, orange, and black figures: Elites, Grunts, Jackals, and ODSTs.
      The Marines hefted their assault rifles, making sure they were charged and loaded. "Two minutes!" called Hocus. Reynolds surveyed his troops: his neural implant superimposed their names onto his vision, but he didn't particularly care about that. He instead looked for any untoward symptoms of worry, anxiety, and the like. The Gunnery Sergeant was happy to see that none of the Marines were displaying those, although he curiously noted a slim blonde Marine reciting "Hail Mary" over and over again; it wasn't that Reynolds was particularly atheistic, but there were quite a few atheists in the foxholes these days.
      Plasma fire suddenly streaked into the troop bay, probably from the gun turret mounted on a Wraith. Corporal John Silver, the sideburn-bearing Marine whom Reynolds had talked to earlier, took the brunt of it, and collapsed. The medic didn't even bother pronouncing him.
      "One minute!" came the alert. Reynolds checked that his BR-55 was in working order, and addressed the platoon. "Alright, people. Gunny Stacker's ODSTs are pinned down at the Covie encampment, they need us to blast a path to the Berlin. I won't bore you with a pep talk, or a last minute tactical briefing, but I will give you this: find a buddy, and stick with him. If he goes down, find a new one. Never, ever try and fight alone. If you do, you won't be fighting long." Memories of Lieutenant Vough, the first member of Bravo Team to fall, slunk unbidden into Reynolds' mind. He tensely shook his head; now was defnitely not the time to relieve the ambush. "Am I clear, Marines?"
      "Sir! Yes Sir!"
      Reynolds gritted his teeth, yanked the charging lever of his BR, and prepared himself to once again go to war.

***

      Master Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker, in the meantime, was vaguely surprised that this was how it felt to die.
      Stacker, realizing he and his men couldn't afford to wait for Reynolds, had ordered a charge in an attempt to break through the surrounding Covenant soldiers, and push through to the Berlin.
      The attempt had played out like a futuristic version of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
      Helljumpers rose up across the battlefield like black-armored grasshoppers, cranked their helmet speakers up to maximum volume, and charged, letting out a horrendous war cry as they did so. For the first few seconds, the technique seemed to have worked, the Covies had been stunned by the audacity of the humans; the Helljumpers had taken the opportunity to dispatch several Elites and one of the two surviving Wraith tanks. Then the shit hit the fan.
      The gold-armored Elite commanding the Covies had ended the group reverie in typically unsubtle Elite fashion: he'd impaled the Major Domo standing next to him with his energy sword.
      The Covies came out of it at once, and had poured plasma onto the still-charging Helljumpers, who by this time were at the edge of the Covie camp.
      Stacker had almost made it, but "almost" didn't do anyone any good in the middle of a war. He'd taken non-lethal hits several times, including a flesh wound to his forehead courtesy of shrapnel, but the needler round that had incapacitated him had struck him in the leg, causing blood to start gushing from the wound. Stacker's armor had sealed the wound with biofoam as soon as he collapsed, but the Gunny knew he didn't have very long
      So here Stacker found himself, lying in the dirt on a goddamn Halo ring, waiting to bleed out, or for some Covie to realise that this motionless human was still alive, and to kill him. Or eat him. Or both. Stacker honestly wasn't sure whether the non-Brute species of the Covenant did the latter.
      A sudden humming noise filled Stacker's head. The Gunny, who had shut his eyes, was suddenly cogizant of Battle and Assault Rifle fire, intermixed with plasma rounds all over the place. He wondered if he were hallucinating. At this point, where death was all but assured, Stacker didn't much care.
      Stacker managed to pry his eyes open a tad. No mean feat for a man who had blood crusting his eyelids from a flesh wound. What he saw made him even more sure that he was hallucinating.
      What he saw were Reynolds' Marines and 'Taham's Elites spreading out and securing the Covenant encampment, backed by the weapons on the Pelicans and Phantoms.
      Reynolds suddenly swivelled to face Stacker, and his eyes widened. Stacker was unrecognizable in his ODST gear, but Reynolds' neural lace would no doubt identify Stacker to his fellow Gunny.
      A loud shout of "corpsman!" echoed in Stacker's ears. He noticed several Marines, including Reynolds and a grunt with the red plus sign of a corpsman, running over to him.
      A sudden rush of air onto his face informed the Gunnery Sergeant that his helmet had been removed. William Reynolds' grim face peered into Stacker's, looking more morose than ever.
      "Well?" Reynolds asked of the corpsman, sounding to Stacker like he was talking into a tin can. The corpsman showed Reynolds his med-scanner.
      A smile, for the what was the first time in a long, long time, broke across Gunnery Sergeant William Reynolds' face. And that was when Pete Stacker knew he was going to live.

***

      Lieutenant Freyyr gave his report, saluted, executed a crisp about-face, and departed the bland Admiral's quarters, leaving behind a very. very satisfied Brett Harsoth.
      Of the 48 ODSTs, 48 Marines, and 100 Elites (Sangheili platoons being quite a bit larger than human ones), 24 Helljumpers, 40 Marines, and 98 Elites had made it, with the Helljumpers having taken most of the casualties. Needless to say, Harsoth now had a considerable boost to his forces, enough of one to retake the offensive. The Admiral's Marine adjutant, Captain Joseph Kline, would have no doubt disagreed with that, saying that Harsoth should have remained on the defensive. Thing was, Kline was dead, and had died whilst attempting to carry out that operational policy. So the Admiral would take the offensive.
      Stacker's beleagured Helljumpers would be held back to defend the Berlin, along with the battered remnants of Kline's company. Lieutenant Delckiss and Master Sergeant Anselm would no doubt be irritated at being held back, but Harsoth had no doubt the regular grunts of the company would be fine with the decision.
      Gunny Reynolds' Marines and Major Domo 'Taham's Elites, on the other hand, would be dispatched to the ring's three phase-pulse generators to disable the firing mechanism, a technique pioneered by MCPO SPARTAN-117 on the first Halo ring. The problem with that strategy was that it was only a stopgap solution; something more permanent was necessitated.
      The more permanent solution consisted of a Nova nuclear bomb, the second model made using the plans pioneered by Vice-Admiral Danforth Whitcomb. If the Nova could be placed in the ringworld's control center, then the threat of another Halo ring would be removed from the galaxy.





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