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Fan Fiction

New Harvest
Posted By: Jay2645<Disneylandjay@gmail.com>
Date: 23 September 2009, 10:04 pm

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      Subject 990108 finally awoke. He was adrift inside a small tube, floating in some kind of tasteless, colorless liquid.
      What was he doing here?
      He looked around at the world outside his tube's glass walls. All around him was a sterile world, a world which was filled with a contrast of white walls and dark floors and which was decorated with all kinds of peculiar beeping instruments from floor to ceiling. Nearby was a computer mounted on a wall, running some kind of program consisting of many different wavering lines. On the bottom corner of the screen, it displayed the date: March 24, 2510. 13:05, military time. Everything in here, it all looked familiar to him; as if he were locked in an everlasting dream and was just now being reawakened, reintroduced into the outside world. What had happened?
      What had happened? That… That was the question. He thought long and hard about it. The hours ticked by on the computer screen, and all he could remember was… Was…
      No matter how long and hard he concentrated, he couldn't remember anything at all about his past. Not his name, not his family, not his purpose was for being here, trapped in this confining tube. The only thing he could remember was the number 990108, a number which was tattooed onto his chest. His ID number.
      Who was he? Why was he trapped here? What IS this place?
      Just outside his tube, a door opened. A slender female stepped through it, in a white lab coat and glasses. She appeared to be in her mid-twenties, and looked as if she was the kind of woman who could keep secrets. Many secrets. She approached his tube.
      "Hello there little ones," she said.
      Little ones? Plural?
      She continued. "My name is Lucia, and welcome to the lab facility of the Office of Naval Intelligence's Section Zero. This facility is going to be your new home. You will learn here, grow here, train here. You will become one of the best; elite among elites; a commando among commandos. You will become strong. You will be who we need you to be.
      "But something is coming. Something the human race has never had to deal with before. And you have been..." She paused. "'Selected' to fight it.
      "We don't know when this threat will arrive, exactly, but we know they're out there, plotting our demise. They will mean us harm, and they will exterminate us, colony by colony. Once they reach Earth… We won't stand a chance. We need something to save us from that fate. And you, little ones, will be our saviors.
      "You won't seem to be anything other than a casual ODST, not from the outside. The public won't know you're any different. They can't know.
       "But you are. You have been specially picked to take the fight to this new threat coming our way. Your minds are wiped, your bodies are cloned. The other subjects in this room are going to be your brothers and sisters on the battlefield. Your only family. The people in this room will be your closest compatriots. And I will train you, teach you what we know about the threat to our race, mold you into our saviors, our messiahs."
      Cloned? ODST?
      "As your young bodies grow and learn, you will be dispatched into combat together, forever sealing your bonds with the blood of battle. You are going to be the elite of the ODST squads: pure, dedicated commandos, with an inhuman willingness to serve and fight. It will be all you have ever known. Welcome to the 77th Helljumper Division, Omega squad."
      And, with that, Lucia left the room. Subject 990108 turned around. Behind him were thirty-one identical tubes, each with a small human body in them. He wanted to call out, to cry to them, ask them if they knew what had happened, if they could fill in the horrible void in his mind… As he was about to bang on the glass, a black substance leaked into the liquid in his tube. He found himself growing sleepy… His eyes were heavy… Darkness overcame his vision as project OEDIPUS test subject number 990108 fell into a deep sleep.

Sep 23
0537 hours
Pelican dropship over Reach
      Seven years had passed since Subject 990108 had begun his training. Five years ago, he had been given a "proper" name, Dimitri Valdez. And just the other day, Section Zero had analyzed the seven-year-old bodies of the ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) and determined that they were finally able to handle the stresses of live-fire combat.
      Their Pelican soared high above the surface of Reach, the base of military operations for the UNSC (United Nations Space Command). He gazed out onto the ground below, admiring the planet's beauty. Dawn was breaking, giving everything a pink glow as the Pelican passed Reach's military bases. The kids aboard were watching as the soldiers began their early morning exercises. Suddenly, he saw something strange. Dimitri spotted a group of kids, not much older than 6, being given push-ups and all manner of military warm-ups. It was an odd sight watching recruits so young; Dimitri was confident that Omega squad was the only squad of specially-trained ODSTs. They were the test bed for the program; it was their duty to be on the front lines, to prove to ONI that they were the best fighting force available. It was their purpose. Could it be that Section Zero had "selected" OTHER ODSTs to do THEIR job? No. It was impossible. They must be much older. He watched as one of the young trainees on the ground threw up, and Dimitri looked off into the trees beyond.
      The girl next to him tapped his shoulder.
      "Dimitri, you alright?"
      Dimitri finally broke away from gazing at the outside world and looked at his comrades inside the Pelican, all of which were getting ready for battle. "Yeah, Colleen, I'm fine. Thanks."
      He had made some friends over the last seven years. Of the original thirty-two trainees, only sixteen made it through the harsh initial incubation phase of their training.
      Once that ordeal was over, Colleen was the first one of his fellow squadmates he had talked to, and the pair became the best of friends. She had always had a peculiar beauty about her, one which was not normally seen in a girl her age, and she was famous for having the ability to give people piercing glares straight through her helmet.
      Her combat ID number was C26. Dimitri's was P13. While the UNSC mandated that they use their combat IDs during battle, it was a mandate often ignored by Omega squad, even during simulations. The bonds between the soldiers were too close to use anything less than their real names.
      The Pelican finally hovered above a small box canyon. It was a very peculiar place; two strange facilities stood at either end of the canyon, and a stream and a large natural bridge divided it in two. It looked both natural and unnatural at the same time, as if someone - or something - had created it. It was unlike anything Dimitri had seen before.

      Lucia gave them their orders over the roar of the Pelican's engines.
      "Welcome to a place we call 'Beaver Creek', Omega squad. Today's live-fire exercise is 'Capture the Flag'. You will be split up into two teams of eight members each, and each team will start in these mock-ups of structures we have discovered all over UNSC space. It seems that the extra-galactic threat will do anything for these structures, so you must learn to attack and defend them.
      "Your mission today is to get the other teams' flag by any means necessary. We will have a medic on-station who will revive anyone who has been incapacitated by gunfire, but I promise that you won't be getting back into the fight today if you go down." She paused. "Oh, and Dimitri, please don't shoot the medic this time."
      Dimitri grew red as he felt the glares of all his squadmates looming down on him. Lucia continued.
      "The first team to capture the flag one time wins. Colleen, you lead Blue team. Ian, you lead Red. Team leaders, please pick your teammates."
      Colleen's first choice was Dimitri. The two quickly snatched up the other most promising Helljumpers in their squad: Dimitri grabbed May as Colleen got Alex and Brandon, the best sniper/spotter pair in the squad. It wasn't long before both teams were prepping their gear and getting ready to jump out of a perfectly good Pelican.
      "Alright, teams set?" Lucia asked. Ian and Colleen nodded. "Let's go!"
      Dimitri bailed from the Pelican first. He pulled his chute and landed just outside the structure designated for blue. Colleen landed next to him and handed him his helmet.
      "You forgot this," she said.
      "Oh. Thanks." Dimitri put the helmet over his head and linked up with Colleen. The HUD immediately came to life, detecting his teammates and squad leader. The grey digital camouflage normally found on his ODST combat uniform changed to a "Blue Tiger" style. Taking out the prototype MA5BX Assault Rifle he had been given to test, he followed Colleen deep into the bowels of the structure.

      Colleen got right to work. "Alright. Let's put together a plan. We'll split up into 2 squads.
      "Squad A will consist of Dimitri, Alex, Brandon, and I. We will search for weapons while Ian's busy talking and then find a way to infiltrate their facility.
      "Squad B will consist of everyone I didn't call and will be led by May. Your job is to form a defensive perimeter around the structure. Keep any attempt to capture our flag out of the picture. Try to find every entrance, make sure it's covered. Let's move!"
      "Short and simple. I like it!" Brandon said.
      Colleen glared at him from behind her helmet. "Cut the chatter. We need to keep this quiet. Let's get out of here, time is of the essence."
      Dimitri scaled the middle structure as Brandon climbed a rock off on the side of the cliff. Alex and Colleen watched the entrance to the red base, taking cover in the shadows of rocks. Brandon's voice came over the comm.
      "Brandon here. I found a sniper rifle. I'll pick them off from here and keep them from getting into our base."
      "Roger that, Brandon. But remember to aim for body shots. We just want to keep them out of the fight, they're still our squadmates," Colleen replied.
      "I copy."
      Alex cut in. "I'll be your spotter. Link up with me on a private channel."
      "Roger that, Alex."
      "Colleen, this is Dimitri. I found a rocket launcher up top here. It could cause a LOT of noise. Only 2 shots though. Also, I can see a hole in their bases' roof from up here; it would make for a nice way in."
      "Copy that Dimitri. Get down here with Alex and I. We'll go in through the roof."
      Dimitri slid down the side of the cliff before rejoining Alex and Colleen.
      Colleen opened a public comm channel to her team. "All set?"
      There were seven affirmatives.
      Colleen smiled under her helmet. "Let's move in."
      Alex began seeking targets to identify for Brandon as Dimitri and Colleen climbed up to the roof of the facility. The pair peered through the hole in the roof. Ian had just finished laying out his plan, and every member of red team charged out the opening.
      Colleen laughed. "He must have laid out a simple plan. That took him five minutes less than usual." She opened a comm to Alex. "They're headed your way, Alex."
      "Yeah, thanks."
      "I'll keep them distracted for you." Dimitri said, firing the first shot from his rocket launcher. It impacted meters from the Ian's feet. Their entire team turned around, each one of them scanning the horizon, trying to find the source of the rocket. They were easy pickings for Brandon as Colleen and Dimitri dropped through the hole.
      Chaos reigned as the Reds tried to determine where the sniper bullets were coming from. In no time at all, Brandon fired four shots, dropping four Reds. The rest charged at the Blue base. Brandon fired a few shots into the base, hoping to get lucky, but it was too late.
      He swore and turned on his comm. "They're in the base. Half their members went down to my fire, but they managed to punch through anyway."
      "Roger that, Brandon, this is Colleen. I have the flag, Dimitri's guarding my back. How are things going in there, squad B?"
      There was a pause, and then May's strained voice was inside their helmets. "We're holding out. Two of them are down; we've taken a couple hits as well. I think Ian has the flag, but we can't find them. Possible they snuck out."
      Colleen swore. "Find them. We can't capture this thing unless our flag is at home. Search the base, but watch for traps, got it?"
      "I copy, Colleen. May out."
      Colleen and Dimitri escaped from the Red base and made a dash for Blue. The duo froze as they heard a scream.
      "Who's down?"
      Alex responded. "Brandon's unresponsive, it was probably him. They have a sniper now, so get to cover and watch for Reds! I'll distract them, you get the cap!"
      Dimitri emptied his last rocket in the general direction of Brandon's position before darting inside with Colleen
      The two ran to where the Blue flag should be.
      She swore. It was missing.
      Brandon took out his MA5BX and began to patrol the base, searching for a target.
      Colleen turned on her comm. "Alex, have you found them?"
      No response.
      "Alex? Do you copy?"
      Dimitri saw something move in the shadows. He shot at it. "Oi," he called, "there's no use hiding in here if you have the flag, Ian. You might as well just give up, even if you took Alex down, you're still outnumbered."
      The shadow moved away. Dimitri inched closer. "Come on, Ian. Drop the flag and give up. It's a lost cause, mate."
      "Alright. I guess we'll just sit here then. It'll only be a matter of time before you lose, AGAIN."
      "NEVER!" Ian cried as he charged from the corner of the base, flag in hand. Calmly, Dimitri kicked Ian into a wall and shot him a few times in the chest.
      "That was a stupid move, comrade. You were outnumbered and outgunned. You really just should have just run, you know." Dimitri picked up the flag and put it back where it belonged. An electronic sensor in the Red flag detected that the two flags had been brought together and signaled the end of the game.
      Lucia broadcast on an open channel. "Congrats, Dimitri and Colleen. You've won… Barely."
      "Huh? Barely? What do you mean, we had superior numbers! There were at LEAST two others on our team, right?"
      "Nope. You two were the only ones who made it through that, save Fred on the Red team, who had managed to take out your entire defense single-handedly."
      Colleen was confused. "How the HELL did he manage that one?"
      There was a crackling noise as Fred's comm joined in on the conversation. "You had your defense anticipating a frontal attack. Ian led a kamikaze charge to distract them while I snuck in behind and took out your defense without a fight."
      "Smart." Dimitri said, and Colleen shot him one of her signature looks.
      "Back to base, Marines," Lucia said, "Food's waiting for you."

Sep 24
1515 hours
ONI Facility Alpha Conference Room B, Reach
      Dr. Hasley was furious. "Lucia, you sent seven-year olds on a LIVE-FIRE exercise?"
      "Section Zero determined that the test subjects of operation OEDIPUS could handle it. It won't be much different than what your pet SPARTAN project will be going through soon enough, anyway, and they're a year younger."
      "I guarantee you my Spartans will be MUCH older than seven when I send them on their first live-fire! It's bad enough Ackerson ripped off the research which went into the SPARTAN project for your own uses-"
      "There are a number of errors in your logic, Doctor." Lucia's tone grew gradually more condescending. "First off, this is actually their THIRD live-fire. Second, we have every safety precaution in place."
      "You had a rocket launcher."
      "THIRD, this project is much different than your precious SPARTAN project, Doctor. We didn't kidnap to get our subjects, we didn't lie about their fates to their parents. We didn't replace ours with the flash-clones which died over the course of a couple weeks like you did, no. We just took their DNA and used it to grow real clones, without harming any of the original children. And these clone commandos, these super-ODSTs have a much greater destiny than any of your Spartans. This project won't be fighting Rebels."
      "Then who are they going to be fighting?"
      "I'm sorry, but that information is classified high above your permissions, Doctor."
      "Classified my ass. I'll find out, trust me."
      "I doubt it."
      "How will your project be different from my Spartans? How can our similar projects working off the same research –MY research- be so different?"
      "I'll tell you how: First, they won't be looked upon by the public as monsters. On the exterior, they look like casual soldiers, unlike your Spartan… monstrosities. Second, they haven't been kidnapped from their former lives to serve our purposes. They have no real family, no loved ones or anything resembling a normal life to slow them down. Fighting will be all they've ever known." Dr. Hasley opened her mouth to speak, but Lucia cut her off. "AND, they won't have any dangerous and DEADLY augmentations added to them. They'll be a new breed of ODSTs. They may seem like typical soldiers to the common eye, but they have the advantage of being brought up especially to fight the coming threat."
      "Just because they're clones doesn't mean that they're expendable, Lucia. It doesn't mean you can toss their lives away in a live-fire. Clone or not, they're human."
      "And just because they're kidnapped means that the children involved in YOUR project are expendable? Do you have any IDEA how dangerous your plans for augmenting your kids are? At least for our clones, we can heal any normally-fatal injuries with a cloned organ. 'Spare parts', they call them."
      "And where did you get your clones from?"
      "Individuals who showed that they were the best of the best, just like your Spartans. Except for the sources of our clones don't have a family in mourning right now, unlike the candidates for your SPARTAN project."
      "Even if they ARE cloned, you should still treat them like humans. Don't butcher them at this young age with dangerous things like live-fire exercises!"
      "And you should consider the same advice, Doctor. Good day."

Feb 19
1900 hours
UNSC Barracks, Reach
      The interior of the UNSC Reach barracks was a wreck. Crew and equipment were being rushed every which way, creating a tangled mess of chaos and confusion.
      Colleen searched everywhere, and eventually found Dimitri in the commotion. She pulled him aside to one of the few quiet corridors in the barracks.
      "What's all the commotion about? Are we under attack by those aliens?" Colleen asked Dimitri.
      "No, it's something about Admiral Cole. I think we're being sent to fight them, to retake Harvest."
      "This'll be fun." Colleen said, sarcasm dripping from her voice.
      "I know. But it's our destiny, Colleen. It's what we were born to do. ONI had known this day was coming for years now, they just didn't know when. And now, after fifteen years of training… It all comes down to this."
      "A suicide mission against an enemy we know nothing about?"
      "I wouldn't call it a suicide mission… But I know we'll get through it, with your wit and strategy… It won't be an issue. We're commandos! The best of the best, remember? We're even better than those elitists in the 105th!"
      Colleen looked unsure. Dimitri looked around, made sure no one was watching, and embraced her. "It'll be all right. We'll get through this. I promise."

Mar 1
0800 hours
UNSC Sacramento Cryo Room A
      "Omega squad, rise and shine!" Lucia said.
      Defrosting procedures on the sixteen cryo pods began. Colleen was first on her feet, followed by Alex and Dimitri. The ODSTs lined up, single-file.
      "Today is the day you finally put your training to the test. In a matter of moments, we will exit Slipspace and enter hostile territory. We're with Admiral Cole at the former human colony of Harvest, which, as you know, has been taken over by a new threat that we're calling 'The Covenant'.
      "You've run the simulations on Reach. You know what to do. While Admiral Cole distracts the Covenant fleet, you and the 105th will drop to the surface.
      "We have identified some of the different types of the aliens, arranged in a medieval, caste-like structure. So far, we have identified a tall, leader type, which we are calling 'Elites'; below them in rank is a bird-like type used for sniping and patrols, called 'Jackals', and at the bottom is a small, easily-scared class which the other classes use in great numbers to wear down an enemy, named 'Grunts'. There are records of another class, named 'Brutes'. However, we know very little about these Brutes, and it appears the upper ranks of the Covenant hierarchy have had them pulled off of Harvest for an unknown reason.
      "Helljumpers, your mission is to scout the area, rendezvous with the other marines in the capital city, and begin the campaign to retake Harvest. Report any kind of hostile activity and keep it quiet.
      "One final thing: I am promoting Colleen to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer and Dimitri to the rank of Chief Petty Officer due to their extraordinary performance during simulated combat exercises."
      The ODSTs clapped as Colleen and Dimitri smiled.
      "We will be entering normal space in five minutes. I expect you ALL to be planet-side within ten. We need to get the Covenant off of this planet ASAP. The UNSC needs a victory. The sooner, the better."
      "Yes ma'am!" the ODSTs replied.

      Collision alarms blared as the Sacramento entered normal space. The ODSTs quickly loaded their HEVs (Human Entry Vehicles). The Sacramento shook as her hull took the initial blasts from the aliens' laser weaponry.
      "I don't think she's going to hold! Launch!" Colleen cried.
      Sixteen points of fire flashed for a second along the Sacramento's bottom hull, followed closely by the thirty-two points of fire from the 105th.
      Omega squad finally got a good look at the Covenant battlegroup.
      "A single ship? Really?" Colleen said. "This'll be easy."
      "I wouldn't underestimate it, Colleen. I just hope it doesn't find us." Ian replied.
      As the ODSTs soared towards the surface of Harvest, they watched as the hull integrity of the Sacramento failed catastrophically from hit after hit from the lone craft's weaponry. Finally, the ship erupted into a series of massive fireballs, being fueled by the ship's vented atmosphere.
      "Brace for shockwave!" an ODST yelled. The shockwaves from Sacramento's destruction tore through space, sending Colleen and Dimitri tumbling out of control.

Mar 1
1847 hours
      It was sunset on Harvest. Colleen finally awoke and kicked out the door to her HEV. She took out her experimental battle rifle, the BRX-55, and scanned the area. The ground had been melted into a kind of yellow glass, which crunched and cracked under her boots. She remembered seeing footage of a similar effect in the old film reels Lucia showed the ODSTs when they were kids, demonstrating the chaos of what had happened to the ground when the first atomic bombs were tested - except this time, the effect was on a massive, planet-wide scale. It was a kind of vertigo.
      She heard a faint banging noise and raised her BRX-55, scanning the horizon. Far off into the distance, she spotted another HEV and rushed towards it.
      Upon inspection, she learned that the door had failed to blow when the HEV landed, sealing the occupant inside. The banging continued, and Colleen pulled the emergency release, popping open the door. A familiar-looking ODST stumbled out and fell into her arms.
      "Welcome to hell," Colleen said to Dimitri with a smile, "Enjoy your stay."

      Covenant activity was scarce around the area the two had dropped in. The ground was scarred and blasted from the Covenant's destruction of Harvest and the "glassing" of the planet. Craters and fractures in the glass from made by the laser weapons used by the Covenant made the landscape look like a yellow moonscape. Atomic winter had set in, and a light snow began to fall over the barren landscape.
      "How long have we been out?" Dimitri asked.
      "Three hours, give or take. It seems like we landed about ten miles off-course. Pretty good, considering the hit our pods took."
      Dimitri nodded. "So, what do you think we should do now?"
      "Regroup with the others. Head north. There should be a small area which isn't glassed, according to ONI's findings. We're supposed to meet up there."
      A ghostly noise grew louder overhead. Looking up, the three craft approaching the ODSTs didn't look human. That noise definitely wasn't human. Which could only mean…
      "COVENANT!" Dimitri cried. Colleen and Dimitri dashed for cover in the barren wasteland. The two dove into a nearby crater, waiting for the Covenant Banshee flyer patrol to pass overhead. Once the Covenant patrol was out of sight, the duo began their march to the north.

      The ten-mile trek was long and hard. It took them a full two hours to make it to the former capital city, now a smoldering ruin. Finally, they saw the ruins of the skyscrapers on the horizon.
      "You know, for a Covenant-held planet, there isn't any Covenant, save the occasional Banshee patrol." Colleen said.
      "Yeah, tell me about it."
      The duo paused to look at the ruins of the skyscrapers off in the distance.
      "Why do you think they spared it?" Colleen asked.
      "Their lasers must've missed a spot."
      "Or do you think that maybe they're looking for something?"
      Dimitri just shrugged.

      Colleen turned on her comm and listened for chatter from any UNSC forces nearby. The channel was dead. She tried to speak into the comm. "This is Helljumper squad Omega. Any local UNSC forces respond."
      The only response was a faint buzzing of static.
      Helljumper pods littered the city. Each had the 105th logo on it, but there was no sign of the Helljumpers themselves. A few of the pods had been sealed shut from the heat of re-entry. An occupational hazard. Colleen and Dimitri took off their helmets to pay their respects to their fallen comrades.
      Suddenly, the two came across a large crater in the middle of the city, much larger than any of the others they had seen so far. One of the mysterious alien structures they had learned to attack and defend in their live-fire exercises so long ago was peeking out at the bottom.
      Colleen was stunned. "So that's why this place wasn't glassed. They were looking for something! We have to report this back to ONI once we're able to get into-"
      She was interrupted by a strange, bird-like noise from behind them. Dimitri and Colleen turned around as a green bolt of plasma energy flew between them.
      "That must be a Jackal!" Colleen said as she dove for cover.
      There was another shrieking noise as the Jackal advanced. Dimitri shot the thing in the head with a single burst from his BRX-55, spraying purple blood everywhere. The limp body fell to the floor.
      "Dimitri… I think that was a bad idea."
      A high-pitched voice rang out. "Leader! More enemy!"
      There was a squad of the smaller aliens, each of them still the size of an average man.
      Dimitri swore. "These must be the Grunts!"
      A small, blue sphere landed between the two. It began to emit steady pulses of bright blue light.
      "Get away!"
      Colleen and Dimitri ran down a nearby alleyway as the Grunt's plasma grenade exploded, guns blazing at the murderous demons behind them. They darted down the narrow side passages of the capital city, until eventually the cries of the Grunts were far in the distance.
      "We lost them." Dimitri said, panting.
      But now, a new sound arose from the distance, a short, staccato cracking sound: the familiar sound of a human sniper rifle.
      Dimitri turned on his comm. "This is Chief Petty Officer Dimitri Valdez of the 77th Helljumper Division, Omega Squad to any UNSC forces! ANY forces in the area, respond!"
      A familiar voice replied. "Dimitri! Thought you would never make it. Uhh… We're a bit tied up here, we could use a hand or two. Is Colleen with you?"
      Colleen's voice piped up on the comm. "I'm right here, Ian."
      "Great! So we're all reunited once again. A big, happy family. There are still a few Elites and some Grunts left, just flank them and we'll help you take 'em out."
      The Covenant never knew what had hit them. Dimitri and Colleen snuck up on the high-ranking Elites at the back of the pack, pouncing on them. Before they had figured out what was happening, their necks were broken, killing them instantly.
      As their leaders fell to the two Helljumpers, chaos ripped through the Covenant ranks as the Grunts panicked. The confused mess of Covenant was then brought down by a hail of sniper fire from the nearby abandoned post office, which the rest of Omega Squad had been using as a temporary base.
      Colleen and Dimitri finally rejoined their squad. Ian filled them in on the details.
      "It's a mess, guys. Two-thirds of Admiral Cole's fleet was wiped out fighting a single ship. He won, but Covenant are still swarming all over the planet, and it doesn't look like they're going to go into retreat just because their ship is broken. It looks like it will just be us and the 105th retaking this entire planet until things can get sorted out up there."
      "What do you mean the entire planet?" Dimitri asked.
      "I mean we can't leave until we have killed every Covenant bastard on this rock. Orders straight from the Admiral. The UNSC needs the victory. We have tanks and heavy armor on the way once things get sorted out, so we'll be resupplied often, don't worry about that. But Cole wants us to take this rock back, no matter how long it takes. Best-"
      Ian was interrupted by the shattering of glass and a deep rumbling.
      "That's not good."
      The Helljumpers ran to the window, peering through to see two hulking masses staring at them. The arm cannon on one of them was glowing a light green.
      "No, that's not good at all."
      The second-story wall next to the Helljumpers vaporized in a cloud of green smoke. The sixteen members of Omega Squad and fourteen survivors of the 105th fired on the hulking masses.
      "Lucia never mentioned these!" Alex said.
      "They must be a new species. Keep your helmet cams running, ONI would probably like to see this." Colleen replied.
      "Yes ma'am!"
      Dimitri emptied a clip into the alien's armor. Then another. And another. "It's useless! That armor's too strong for guns!"
      "Should we use our harpoons and tow cables?" Alex asked, laughing above the roar of his MA5BX.
      "Alex, this isn't the time for jokes! Aim for the orange spots on their stomachs! Maybe the damn armor might be a little bit weaker there." Colleen ordered.
      A crack from the Sniper rifle confirmed Colleen's suspicions. A single bullet through the stomach brought down the monster.
      "That must be his 'special area'." Alex said.
      "Alex! Again, cut the chatter! There's still one left, and he's angry!"
      The alien's massive arm ripped through the wall of the building, ripping open an entrance and giving it a path to its prey. The beast stood a full twelve feet tall, and drew an imposing figure onto the Helljumpers.
      "Ian! Use your sniper!" Alex cried.
      "I'm out of ammo!"
      Dimitri looked around. It was do or die. He led a suicide charge on the alien.
      "Dimitri!" Colleen cried.
      Dimitri got up-close-and-personal with the hulk, cutting around to its back and emptying a clip into the orange mass. The thing tried to bring down its massive shield onto him, but Dimitri slipped out from underneath it and emptied another clip into its behind, killing the monster.
      "I never, EVER want to see one of those again." Colleen said, relief in her voice.
      "Agreed." Dimitri panted.

Feb 4
1230 hours
UNSC Alpha Base, North Pole of Harvest
      It had been 5 long years since the Helljumpers made their insertion, and Omega Squad had been fighting long and hard ever since.
      The Covenant had focused their attention on the northern pole of Harvest, and so the Helljumpers had taken the fight to them. It was time to mop up the last of the pockets of Covenant resistance near the poles, and soon the UNSC would have Harvest back.
      "A new Commanding Officer is on the next Pelican." Colleen said to Dimitri.
      "Really? What's his name?"
      "Sergeant Forge, from the UNSC Spirit of Fire. He's here to help us mop up the last bit of resistance here, and he has a scientist of some sort who's here to see why the Covenant are so interested in the poles."
      "Bah. As long as it gets us off this hell-hole soon, I'll be happy."
      "It's our destiny, Dimitri. You know that. It's what we were born to do. You said those same words to me five years ago, remember?"
      "Yeah, but I still want to get off of here. The Outer Colonies are falling faster and faster! We need to take the fight to them once more, not waste our time on this lost cause."
      "Dimitri, we need the victory. We need the morale."
      Alex came through the door to the base. "Pelican's here, ma'am. Forge is offloading his Warthog now."
      There was a familiar ghostly noise and an explosion in the distance.
      "Alex, I don't think that Forge is our only visitor." Colleen replied. She ran to the base's communications suite. "All squads, get to your battle stations! Covenant inbound!"
      The ODSTs rushed outside to defend their base. Forge was already on the ground, using his Warthog's Gauss cannon to eliminate the pursuing Banshee aircraft in a single hit. Colleen and Dimitri were on the turrets, chewing through the Banshee's armor.
      "Sarge… We have an issue." Colleen said.
      Over the horizon, three Covenant Vampires were on approach.
      "Vampires. This isn't going to be good." Forge said. Vampires were bad news. They were especially hard to take down, and little could withstand the onslaught of three of them. Closely behind them were Spirits, the Covenant dropships, and those were guarded by a squadron of Banshees.
      "Let's get out of here, NOW." Forge said over the comm. Plasma impacted all over the base as the ODSTs fell back. Dimitri kept the fire on the Vampires until the Covenant were all over him, bailing just as the turret was destroyed by plasma.
      Colleen had barely gotten outside the base perimeter when she turned on her comm. "Omega Squad will hold them off from here, sir. You guys make a dash for it, we'll keep them off your heels!"
      "Copy." Forge patched through to the Spirit of Fire. "Capitan, Alpha is toast. Nothing for me to pull back to. Suggest you hold that backup for now." He paused for a second while his Captain replied. "Roger that, we'll round up any and all survivors and get Alpha back." He looked over at the ODSTs. "You guys try to keep the Covenant from getting any farther. I'm going to get the others and take this base back." And with that, Forge drove off into the distance.
      The ODSTs fought long and hard to keep the Covenant away from the Alpha base survivors. Just as the final troops were evacuating, the Covenant finally got a base shield online and working. The ODSTs watched in helpless horror as the final marines were butchered by the Covenant on the other side of the shield.
      One final Marine made it outside of the shield alive. "Get over here!" May cried.
      The lone Marine dashed for the ODST's cover, but a Covenant Elite, in pure gold armor, emerged from the shield. The ODSTs opened fire as the Elite ran at twice the speed of a normal human, picking up the helpless marine.
      "Hold your fire. We don't want to hit the marine." Colleen said.
      The Elite let out a laugh and held the marine up high. His mandibles spoke, in the human language, "You are vermin, and will be exterminated as such. Filthy creatures, not worthy of the structures left behind by the Great Ones, those who have taken the Great Journey!"
      The marine began to squirm in the grasp of the Elite. The Elite tightened his grip, and there was the snapping of bones as the marine cringed and yelped in pain. The Elite then ignited a sword of pure, surging energy and buried its pink blade deep into the helpless Marine before letting him drop to the ground.
      The marine crawled on the ground and smiled. "You think that's all it'll take to kill me?" He asked. He spit on the Elite's armor. The Elite responded with a roar, picked up his massive hoof of a foot, and stepped on the marine's head, crushing it as if it were an ant.
      The Elite was now no longer alone. All around him were the legions of his Covenant armada, who had come to their leader's defense. He issued a roar of attack while he fell back to the ruins of Alpha base. Legions of Grunts and Elites charged the Helljumpers positions, only to fall from the might of the ODSTs.
      Jackal snipers were killed as they were setting up, Grunts were falling by the dozens, the methane in their breathing gear exploding in deadly blasts. But, little by little, the legions of Covenant were swarming and overtaking their position.
      Finally, the sheer number of Covenant surrounding them was too great. The Helljumpers' position was simply being overwhelmed by legions of Covenant. May came over the comm in a desperate cry.
      "We need backup, NOW! We can't hold them!"
      At that exact moment, a Warthog flew over the nearby hill, splattering a group of Covenant and bringing its mighty gauss cannon to bear on the stragglers. The firepower of every surviving troop from Alpha base was hot on his heels, mopping up the remains. "Come on! Let's get this shield down! Marines, get in there, take it down!" In no time, the marines had destroyed the shield and quickly went to work assaulting the ruins of Alpha base. However, a bright blue explosion cut their advance short.
      "They have Wraiths!" Brandon said, diving for cover, "Requesting air support, NOW!"
      The reply to Brandon's plea was music to the Helljumper's ears. "Shortsword inbound."
      The sound of jet engines screamed overhead. A series of carpet bombs ripped through the Covenant camp, destroying all of the Covenant armor.
      Colleen turned to Dimitri.
      "Dimitri, you remember that Elite?" She asked.
      "Yeah, I know. He survived."
      "Let's rip that bastard to shreds."
      The two ODSTs searched the ruins of Alpha base, looking for the Elite commander, the Covenant's "Zealot". It wasn't long before they found him, sitting in the ruins of the base's command center. The Elite was alone in a corner, praying.
      Colleen broke his concentration. "Hey, asshole! Eat lead!" She opened fire with her MA5BX. The Elite looked up and roared.
      "Colleen… I think that was a bad idea."
      "Duly noted."
      Dimitri opened fire with his MA5BX, aiming to take down its shields. The alien charged towards Colleen, who was struggling with her weapon.
      "Crap! My gun's jammed!" Colleen cried.
      Dimitri dove in front of Colleen, taking out his combat knife and jamming it into the Elite's neck. The Elite roared and tossed Dimitri aside like a child's toy.
      Dimitri was only able to watch in horror as the Elite slammed its energy sword into Colleen's midsection. It removed the sword and laughed callously as Colleen's limp body fell to the floor.

      No… That couldn't have just happened… It was impossible. That bastard just plowed his sword into her, no remorse, no saving grace… He had just lost a sister. Dimitri was overcome with rage. "NO!"
      The lone ODST jumped onto the alien's back and slammed it into the ground. The Elite responded with a loud growl and readied up its sword. Dimitri punched the Elite's armor and shot its sword-wielding hand. The Elite howled, punching Dimitri in the face. Dimitri's helmet shot off and tumbled into the corner of the room. Dimitri responded by emptying a full round of clips into its face.

      Dimitri ran towards Colleen. She was still alive, but breathing erratically. He took out a medpack.
      "This is going to sting a little bit, but then you'll be alright for now."
      Colleen nodded and winced in pain as Dimitri applied the medpack.
      "That'll hold for now, but we need to get you to a doctor."
      Dimitri picked up Colleen and took her to a safe corner near the entrance to the base.
      "I'm going to go find Sergeant Forge and get help, alright?"

      Sergeant Forge finally dispatched the last of the Covenant and drove up to the other ODSTs.
      "You did a good job. Thanks for getting Alpha base back."
      Dimitri ran up to Forge, panicked and worried.
      "Sir, Collee- Err, C26 is down and badly injured. We need evac ASAP." Dimitri said, worry in his voice.
      "Well, then I have good news for you. There's a Pelican on the way. It'll take you to a UNSC Prowler in orbit; aboard they have medical facilities and a way for you to get home. Congratulations guys. You did well."
      "Thank you, sir." Dimitri said.

      Dimitri ran towards Colleen and kneeled next to her. He slowly took off her helmet, setting her head down carefully on the survival blanket he had taken from his backpack.
      "Dimitri… It hurts. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out."
      "I'll get you to a doctor, I swear. There's a Pelican on the way. Just hold on, Colleen."
      "Dimitri… There's something I need to tell you. Something I've wanted to say since the day we got on board the Sacramento. Since I pulled you aside and we hugged in the barracks."
      "What is it?"
      "I… I've always wanted to say… I… I love you. And I always have."
      Dimitri was stunned. He had known it was coming; it was a cliché moment. But actually hearing it from her was something completely different, something somehow… Unexpected.
      "Colleen… I love you, too. You'll be alright, I swear."
      "P… Promise?"
      Colleen smiled.
      Dimitri made sure no one was watching, and then the two locked in a kiss. Their lips were locked for what seemed like an eternity before Dimitri finally pulled off.
They both turned red and put their helmets back on. What they had done was strictly against regulation. But at least they were still alive. They would live to fight another day, and when that day comes, they would get through it together.