Attack on Installation 06, part 15
Posted By: Jake Trommer<email@example.com>
Date: 13 November 2008, 11:09 pm
Attack on Installation 06
1545 Hours, July 09, 2553 (Military Calendar)
Tharidanis System, Installation 06
Gunnery Sergeant Will Reynolds gazed at the third pulse generator for Installation 06, and remarked to no one in particular, "we're going to need a bigger platoon."
Platoon Staff Sergeant Casey Griego, mindlessly fiddling with the assortment of thermal imagers, scopes, binoculars, and night vision goggles festooning his armor, appraised the Marine platoon's objective with flinty, watery eyes. "Or bigger guns."
The pulse generator was housed in an octagonal room, with three obelisks bracketing the energy beam that was the generator itself. Reynolds, who had only four EMP charges with which to destroy it, shook his head.
"Well, we might as well get to work," said Reynolds, massaging his temples with a weary look on his face. "Staff Sergeant?"
Griego nodded. "You heard the Gunny, Marines! Get those charges set!"
Five Marines hustled forward, each one bearing a boxy explosive charge. One of them, hatchet-faced squad leader Sergeant Stafford, shot Reynolds a quizzical look. "Gunny...where the hell do we put these?"
Reynolds looked at the pulse generator, the squad leader, and back again. "I frankly have no idea, Sergeant. Just place them where you think is best."
"Aye-aye, Gunny. It will take us a while to get them primed and ready, and then a couple of minutes more to link them up with the detonators."
Reynolds sighed. "We'll hold out. Get those charges set, Sergeant."
"Aye-aye," repeated Stafford. The Sergeant hefted the EMP charge, and followed his squad over to the generator, where they started priming the charges.
Staff Sergeant Griego, directing the setup of the generator's defenses, shot a look at Reynolds. "We're all set up, Gunny."
Reynolds nodded. His platoon had twenty-five Marines left; five teams of five grunts each. With one team setting the charges, that meant he had twenty Marines to hold out against any potential Covenant attacks. "Good," said the Gunnery Sergeant. "Keep an eye on the door. I'll let the Elites know we made it."
Griego nodded, and resumed peering down the eyepiece of his PAS-26 thermal imager.
Reynolds pressed a hand to his com headset's earpiece. "Alpha Team, this is Bravo. We're at the objective, setting charges now. How copy, over?"
The voice of Major Domo Usze 'Taham crackled over the headset. "I believe the response you humans look for is, 'solid copy.' Consider it said. Our objectives have been completed for an hour now. How long until yours?"
Reynolds gritted his teeth. The Elite had made it clear on board Shadow of Intent that he did not like working with humans, and Reynolds had endeavored to complete his mission whilst contacting his alien counterpart as little as possible. So far, he'd been succeeding. "We're setting charges now," said Reynolds. "Estimate about five to ten minutes before they're ready to go."
"Acknowledged," replied 'Taham. "We'll be standing by in case you need reinforcements. Which you probably will." There was a click, and the channel went dead.
Muttering something about overly arrogant split-chinned freaks, Reynolds swivelled to face the Marines covering the entrance to the generator. Staff Sergeant Griego, eye still glued to the thermal imager, suddenly stiffened.
"Staff Sergeant?" asked Reynolds. "Something wrong?"
"Got something on the thermal," murmured the platoon sergeant. "I dunno if---shit!"
A hail of blue and green plasma bolts streaked into the room, dropping three Marines.
The rebel Elites, and their intendent aliens, weren't done with Reynolds and his men yet.
"Suppress those hostiles, now!" barked Reynolds. "Griego, get your eye out of that thermal and try gluing it to some sights for a change, huh?"
A grimace crossed Griego's ratlike face as he stowed the thermal imager, and drew his BR-55.
Reynolds, spraying suppression fire with the M7 submachine gun that he kept as a sidearm, shouted back to the demolitions team. "Are you guys done yet?"
"Almost ready!" shouted Sergeant Stafford.
The attacking aliens, driven around the corner by the hail of suppression fire, poked the glowing tips of their plasma weapons around the corner and began to fire blindly at the Marine defenders.
Staff Sergeant Griego took the brunt of one of those volleys in the chest, and collapsed. Reynolds raced over to the platoon sergeant to see if he was still alive, but wasn't surprised when he found no pulse. He was about to grab the thermal imager from Griego's web-belt, but stopped when he saw the ammo counter in the Staff Sergeant's BR-55: 36 rounds left in the clip. The Staff Sergeant hadn't fired off a single round.
The rebel Covenant were growing bolder. Four Grunts charged around the corner and, in almost perfect unison, reached onto their equipment harnesses, grabbed two plasma grenades, ignited them, and continued charging for the Marine lines.
"Drop those kamikazes, now!" cried Reynolds.
Battle rifle fire cracked out and tracked across the hallway into the Grunts. The dimunitive aliens dropped...but one of them, in his death throes, hurled his explosive payload at the Marines.
"Hit the deck!" barked Reynolds.
The four fireteams covering the door threw themselves to the ground, but one Marine, a baby-faced man that Reynolds's neural lace tagged as one Corporal Frye, was too slow to drop, and had the grenade adhere to his leg. In a fit of adrenaline, the Corporal yanked his combat knife off of his belt, and began trying to cut off the doomed appendage.
He was still sawing madly when he disappeared in a flare of blue light.
Reynolds shook his head, then clicked his com online. "Major 'Taham, this is Gunny Reynolds! Covenant forces are attempting to retake the pulse generator, and we are heavily outnumbered! Requesting immediate reinforcements, how copy over?"
A sharp bark of laugher cracked over the com. "Understood. On our way."
Reynolds looked at Sergeant Stafford, who was fearlessly working to prime his charge. "How much longer, Stafford?"
"Give it about ten, twelve minutes, Gunny."
Reynolds nodded, and prayed they had that long.
The two rebel CAR cruisers cut across the bow of the human-allied CCS, and unloaded the firepower of their plasma turrets into the smaller, less heavily armored craft. The CCS executed evasive maneuvers as her shields took the brunt of the fire. For a second, it seemed as if she would succeed. Then, a blue light shone from within her hole, and without further ado, the cruiser exploded.
On the bridge of the Assault Carrier Shadow of Intent, Fleet Master Rtas 'Vadum was no longer smiling.
Admiral Brett Harsoth, studying the tactical board shook his head. Two of the rebel CARs were intact, plus the hostile Assault Carrier. 'Vadum's fleet on the other hand, was down to the carrier Shadow of Intent, two CARs, and a CCS. An advantage, but a very very small one.
Fleet Admiral Sir Terrence Hood, standing in front of the viewscreen, cocked a silver eyebrow as the hostile ships disappeared behind a haze of blue light. "Incoming," he remarked.
There was a rumble, and a faint vibration ran through the hull. The two human Admirals cast worried glances at each other.
"Forward shields down to 50 percent, Shipmaster!" bawled the Sangheili shield officer.
'Vadum growled. "All shields forward. Communications: signal to all ships. Tell them to execute 'Fulsamee's Sword. Helm, gunnery, comply with that battle plan."
Hood and Harsoth exchanged a glance. "'Fulsamee's Sword?" asked Harsoth.
'Vadum bared his teeth, the unnerving Sangheili equivalent of a grin. "We're forming up what you humans call an 'arrowhead formation', and moving to take out their command ship."
"We can't afford to do that!" exclaimed Hood. "Shadow if Intent will be torn to pieces!"
'Vadum's grin widened. "Our last CCS cruiser has set its reactor to overload; the crew has slaved command of her drives to this ship and evacuated. We have, in effect, a giant plasma torpedo pointed at them."
Harsoth got it first. "We're just escorting her in."
'Vadum nodded. "Indeed we are."
"Fleet Master," interrupted the comms officer. "All ships report ready to perform 'Fulsamee's sword."
"Very good. Transfer control of the CCS to my station."
"Yes, Fleet Master."
The Fleet of Retribution crisply fell into formation, still spewing blue plasma torpedos at the rebel fleet like so much vomit. 'Vadum had delegated control of his flagship to the helmsman, and was concentrating more on remote-steering the CCS cruiser that had been converted into a bomb. His mandibles were clasped tightly together, and his four-fingered hands displayed surprising dexterity as they danced across his command console.
Harsoth gazed at the viewscreen, noting with some worry the rebel Elite ships growing larger by the second. "Admiral Hood, I don't know about this."
Hood's craggy face remained impassive, but Harsoth thought he detected a faint nod.
The ten Warthogs hurtled across the barren desert, charging forth in their quest to save the Master Chief's AI.
Standing behind the M41 LAAG of the lead craft, Master Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker wearily shook his head. He hadn't endorsed this mission, but none of the Marines in the 30-man retrieval unit had wanted to argue with the Chief.
Actually, thought Stacker, make that 29. Staff Sergeant Jon Salko had attempted to present a case against carrying out this harebrained mission, and he was now onboard Kilo 023, unconcious.
Stacker sighed. Avery wouldn't have had misgivings; he'd have simply given a shout of oorah and laid waste to any hostiles between him, the Chief and Cortana. But Stacker, as he'd learned time and again, wasn't Avery.
So here he was, speeding through this barren wasteland on the gun of a Warthog, seriously regretting his decision to do so. His throat was dry as could be from the sand and dry wind, and his eyes were stinging like they'd taken a round from a plasma pistol.
Fellow Installation 04 veteran Corporal Chips Dubbo looked back from his shotgun position on the Hog. "You alright up there, Gunny?"
Stacker somehow managed to wet his tongue enough to be able to speak. "Never better, Corporal."
The Master Chief sat in the driver's seat, managing to project an air of intensity despite his featureless faceplate. "Gunnery Sergeant, contact Hocus. Ask her if she sees the building."
Stacker clicked his headset online, shouting into it to be heard over the howl of the wind. "Hocus, you copy? This is Savior Actual, over." Stacker gave a small wince at the designation of the Hog unit, so given by the Chief.
The cool voice of the blonde pilot crackled into Stacker's ear. "Solid copy, Gunny. What do you need, over?"
"Hocus, the Chief wants to know if you see the facility, over."
There was silence as Hocus consulted with her Pelican's new passenger. 16807 Repetant Instigator, Monitor of Installation 06, had tagged along to provide guidance and security expertise. "We should be only two klicks away by now, over."
"Roger," replied Stacker. "Savior Actual out."
"You think we'll find her, Gunny?" asked Dubbo.
Stacker, knowing which "her" Dubbo was referring to, glanced at the Chief. The gloves of the Spartan's MJOLNIR armor had tightened around the steering wheel, crimping the metal. Stacker, for what was one of far too many times for his liking, wondered if the Chief had emerged from his cryopod with all his mental faculties intact.
"Hope that we do, Dubbo," replied Stacker. "Hope and pray that we do."