Attack on Installation 06, part 12
Posted By: Jake Trommer<email@example.com>
Date: 1 September 2008, 10:07 pm
Attack on Installation 06
1245 Hours, July 09, 2553 (Military Calendar)
Tharidanis System, Installation 06
The rock spire that Halo Installation 06's third pulse generator was situated on was made of harsh brown stone, with no crags or footholds of any sort. It wasn't exactly the sort of rock formation the UNSC Marine Corps likes to train its soldiers to climb.
Nevertheless, that was Gunnery Sergeant Will Reynolds's plan to get to the top.
Staff Sergeant Greg Schref, Reynolds' platoon sergeant, walked up and saluted. "Hog gunners have lines of sight on the Covie defenses, Gunny. Everyone else is standing by with grapples."
Reynolds nodded, massaging his temples as he did so. "Copy. Tell everyone to stand ready."
Schref shot Reynolds a concerned look. "You okay, Gunny?"
"I dunno," replied Reynolds. "I've had a migraine ever since we landed on this ring."
Reynolds shrugged. "No idea, Staff Sergeant. I'll check with the medics when we get back."
The rest of the Marine platoon was keeping a cautious eye on the Covenant defenders; there were thirty of the aliens: ten Elites, ten Grunts, and ten Jackals. The first two groups didn't have any long-range weaponry that Reynolds could see, but the Marines hadn't been able to determine whether or not there were any snipers amongst the Jackals. Each squad had loaded grappling hooks and wire into their M406 grenade launchers mounted under the barrels of their Battle Rifles, and the four squad leaders, Sergeants all, were lined up in front of their units. One of them, a thin-faced man who Reynolds' neural lace identified as a Sergeant Stafford, approached the Gunny. "We're all set, Gunnery Sergeant."
Reynolds frowned. "You don't sound too enthusiastic, Sergeant."
"Sir, this plan of yours..."
The Gunnery Sergeant sighed. "We don't have a choice, Sergeant."
"I know, Gunny, it's just that I wish it wasn't so crazy."
Reynolds unslung his battle rifle, and clapped the grappling hook into the launcher. "Well, let's get it over with. Staff Sergeant?"
"Yes, Gunny," replied Schref. Thus saying, he stepped forward in front of the platoon. "Platoon! Ah-tennnnn-shun!"
The Marines snapped to order. Reynolds shook his head. Even here on the battlefield, the Staff Sergeant still defaulted to drill. He stepped forward next to Schref. "All right, gents. You've been briefed, you've geared up...now you're going to carry out your mission. There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said...so, good luck. And let's roll."
Thus saying, Reynolds stepped in front of the spire, pumped his grenade launcher, and fired the hook up to the top. A quick tug to confirm it would hold his weight, and he began ascending the cliff, retracting the cable as he went.
The rest of the Marine platoon was already following suit, charging at the cliff, and firing their grappling hooks. Some were shouting "Get some!" or other, less articulate battlecries, but most were making the ascent in silence, praying the Covenant wouldn't notice them.
As a matter of fact, Reynolds, along with Staff Sergeant Schref and the Marines of First Squad, were halfway up the cliff before the Covenant forces mustered a response.
The only warning Reynolds got was a shout of "Contact!" over the headset from one of the Warthog gunners. Then the plasma began to rain down.
The Marines kept climbing, not even trying to evade the plasma fire pouring down on them. First one, then another, then several Marines let out cries and dropped down the cliff, their grappling lines cut by plasma fire, or holes through their chest or head.
Reynolds, still ascending the cliff, managed to bark over the headset, "All Warthog gunners, defilade fire on that hill, now!"
The Marines manning the M41s obliged, their turrets rattling to life. The ten Jackals atop the hill revealed their specialty as they advanced forward and activated their circular shields, causing the LAAG rounds to spark off of them. The Elites, all equipped with direct-line-of-sight weapons, were unable to return fire, relying on the Jackals and their plasma pistols to slow the Marine advance.
The ten Grunts, on the other hand, discarded their plasma pistols, hefted fuel rod guns, and opened fire. Green rounds began raining down, exploding on the cliffside, the ground, and the Marines.
Reynolds, now no more than four yards from the top, grimly continued his ascent. Pausing a second, he grabbed an M9 grenade, and hurled it amongst the Jackals.
A quick count of three later, five of the avians were falling amongst the Marines. Reynolds gave a quick smile, and took a quick second to activate his neural lace in order to check the number of Marines left: twenty-five.
Staff Sergeant Schref, in the meantime had made it to the top, and was spraying battle rifle fire at the five Elites and seven Grunts still at the top (the Jackals had long since been massacred by the Warthog gunners). The red-armored Elite commanding the defenders spared the platoon sergeant a contemptuous laugh before spraying him with plasma fire.
The Gunnery Sergeant and First Squad made it up to the top just in time to see Schref collapse.
The Elites let out a collective roar and charged the Marines.
Reynolds and the squad sidestepped.
The shark-faced warriors ran straight into the hail of fire from the Warthogs' LAAGs and collapsed.
The Grunts took a few seconds to stare at the perforated corpses of what had once been their leaders before running like hell, screaming their heads off.
Sergeant Stafford and First Squad didn't even hesitate to mow them down.
Reynolds raced up to the body of Staff Sergeant Schref. "Corpsman!" He swivelled to face the downed Platoon Sergeant. "Greg! You okay?"
Schref looked at Reynolds, his face pale. "Relax, Gunny. I just got nailed in the leg. That squid-face wasn't too good of a shot."
Reynolds looked at the corpsman. The man held up his medscanner. "He's in no shape to keep moving with us, Gunny, he's lost a lot of blood. I'll call for a medevac."
"Copy," replied Reynolds. "Let's keep moving."
Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker, seated in the bay of Pelican dropship Kilo 23, surveyed at his retrieval team. They were the survivors of his ODST platoon, plus some Marines from Lieutenant Delckiss's Company, plus one other Marine that Stacker had specifically requested: the only other Installation 04 survivor still on active duty, Corporal Chips Dubbo.
Dubbo hadn't originally been part of Hood's Marine complement; he'd been serving as an REMF on board the Shadow of Intent. Stacker, when looking up personnel files in order to determine which Marines to attach to the retrieval op, had come across Dubbo's name. A quick confirmation with Admiral Hood, a COM call to Shadow of Intent, and Dubbo was once again on the front lines.
Upon arriving on the Berlin, Chips had been quick to identify his benefactor. The Australian-born Marine had never been big on words; all he'd said to Stacker was, "Crikey, Gunny, it's good to be back." After that, he'd departed to grab his gear.
So here they were, 28 Helljumpers and 12 Marines, heading out to find the best soldier humanity had ever had. Stacker snorted to himself. If someone had told him, way back when he was a recruit at Parris Island, that he'd become one of the few soldiers to serve with the Chief on the three most critical campaigns of an inter-species war...well, Stacker would probably have laughed in the guy's face.
Funny, how things worked out.
Hocus's voice crackled over the troop bay's intercom. "We're coming up on the coordinates the Monitor gave us. Popping the hatch now." Behind Stacker, the troop bay hatch was splitting open, revealing a lush green forest, with several unfamiliar types of animal wandering through it.
The platoon sergeant, Staff Sergeant Jon Salko, seated next to the hatch, furrowed his brow as he peered out the window. "Are those redwoods?"
"Dunno," replied Chips Dubbo. "I'm more concerned about those animals."
Salko chuckled. "You're an Aussie, Corporal. I thought close proximity to dangerous animals was an everyday thing for you."
Dubbo quirked what passed for a smile with him these days. "Good point, Staff Sergeant. I still don't like the looks of those dog-things, though."
Stacker frowned. "Alright, Dubbo, pitch an MRE out there. That oughta determine whether or not they're carnivorous."
"Hell no, Gunny. I ain't wasting an MRE."
Stacker gave a thin smile. "Hocus'll be staying on station to support us, Dubbo. That includes resupply."
Dubbo shrugged. "Fire in the hole."
Thus saying, the Corporal hurled the MRE packet out of the troop bay into the middle of the dog/wolf/whatever pack.
Two seconds and a flurry of claws later, the MRE disappeared.
"Hell," said Salko.
"Crikey," said Dubbo.
Stacker bit his lip. "Let's hope we don't piss them off."
The intercom popped to life. "There are the coordinates the Monitor gave us, touching down now."
"Roger," replied Stacker. "Alright. Platoon: stand to!"
The ODSTs and Marines snapped to attention, clapping their BR-55s against their chestplates.
The Gunny, wearing standard Marine gear for the retrieval mission (the better for the Chief to recognize him), snugged his Sergeant's cap against his head, and spoke: "People, you have been selected for what may very well be one of the most critical missions of this post-war period. You all know who the Master Chief is: his deeds, his victories, his disappearance. Marines...today, we find out whether or not the Chief is really gone. The Monitor of this ringworld claims to have him, and he wants to to return him to us. Odds are this could be a trap, but we cannot afford to take the risk. If anyone wants to bow out, you can stay here on Kilo 23. Anyone not want to go?"
The assembled soldiers gave a bark of, "No, Gunnery Sergeant!"
Stacker gave a tight smile; the Pelican was by now on the ground. "Then let's roll!"
Thus saying, the Gunny charged out of the troop bay, sweeping the area with his BR-55. The four Marine squad leaders, plus Staff Sergeant Salko and Corporal Dubbo, were the next ones off, heading up their squads. Stacker clicked on his COM headset. "Report!"
"First Squad, clear!"
"Second Squad, clear!"
"Third Squad, clear!"
"Fourth Squad has movement!"
All the soldiers swivelled to face the anomaly. Stacker pressed the scope of his battle rifle to his face, and made a quick adjustment to the zoom as he sighted in on the target: a spherical shape, with small blue energy pulses coming off of its body...
"All teams, stand down. It's a friendly."
16807 Repetant Instigator emerged from the treeline. "Greetings. I am the Monitor of Installation Zero-Six. I am---"
Stacker gestured with his rifle. "Just take us to the Chief."
The Monitor gave a sort of wobble, which Stacker interpreted as a sort of shrug. "As you wish. This way."
Thus saying, the Monitor floated into the forest.
Stacker and the retrieval platoon hesitated for two seconds, then followed suit.
Harsoth, Hood, and Half-Jaw were reminscing about the Human-Covenant War when the news broke.
Lieutenant Freyyr, a grim look on his bald countenance, opened the door to Harsoth's bland quarters, hesitated as he saw the Sangheili Fleet Master sitting next to Harsoth on the Admiral's bed and Lord Hood with his feet up on Harsoth's desk, and saluted. "Sir. There's news."
The members of the Admiralty within all stiffened. "Is it the Chief?" asked Hood.
Freyyr shook his head. "It's a Rebel El---er, Sangheili battlegroup. Six CCS-class cruisers, five CAR-class...and one Assault Carrier."
'Vadum shot to his feet. "Has the Shadow of Intent been informed?"
"Yes, Fleet Master."
'Vadum turned to face Hood. "We are lucky your compatriots on Earth did not force you to bring your ships. They would not last long in a fight of this magnitude."
Hood nodded, then swivelled to face Harsoth. "Admiral, whilst I enjoy your company here..."
"You need to return to the Shadow of Intent."
"Admiral, let me come with you. You've seen me in action; you know what I'm capable of."
The heavily lined Fleet Admiral gazed at the emaciated Harsoth. "Alright, Brett. Let's go."
Harsoth looked at his loyal aide. "You have command here, Lieutenant."
Thus saying, the two Admirals and one Fleet Master departed Harsoth's quarters, finally able to take the fight to the enemy.