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Red Skies-Part One
Posted By: KkilljoyGruntT<survivorrepublic@aol.com>
Date: 13 June 2010, 2:48 am

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      "Murphy's motherfucking law in the stuff, guys."
      "Ey, boss, ya gotta keep calm when the shit hits the fan"
      "Shit hitting the fan? Naw, man, this is more like having an elephant take a giant dump in the fan while you stand in front of it."
      "So, are we going to do anything about it or…"
      Sergeant Morris Cade turned to his ODST squad, his helmet depolarizing and showing his strictly regulated black hair and blue eyes, "Yeah, Jones, we're gonna blow the living shit out of it."
      Jonesy Ryan Jones, the new specialist trusted with explosives and advanced weaponry pumped one fist and grinned," Yessssss!"
      'It' was a sleek red Covenant warship glassing its way through New Mombasa and clearing the edge of what appeared to be a giant excavation site. It had just blasted away the bridge to Cade's squad's evacuation point, followed by the point itself, probably taking hundreds of innocent people with it.
      The squad was standard and had a tendency to wind up in bad situations, hence the only member that was a veteran of more than five years (not counting cryosleep) was Cade. There was Jones, the easily excitable specialist transferred in from another squad to assist in acquisition of Covenant technology (though it was rumored he often sympathized with the smaller covenant species), Private First Class Marsha Richards, the well-trained olive skinned girl who heralded herself as someone who kicked ass 'by the book', the blonde twins Eric and Leon Gallows, who respectively preferred close quarter and long range combat, and private Jane Canasta, a sharp eyed woman with a bad case of PTSD that kept her in a constant chain of demotions.
      "Ey, Jone-zay, looks like yah gonna get teh use that bomb o' yoirs after all!" Marsha elbowed the rusty haired boy hard in the gut, pushing him over.
      "Yeah, right?" Jonesy swung himself over the crumpled railing of the highway overpass, landing with a metallic thud on the roof of a Montana Super5000 sportscar, "'Is going to be freakin' awesome!"
      "Yeah-hahaha! I got dibs on pulling the trigger!"
      "Naw fuckin' way, man!" Eric shoved his brother over the railing and jumped after him, wrestling him to the ground.
      "Come on you immature dillwads, we've got to be quiet about this. If reports are right, Bravo squad got swamped and eaten by grunts because they dropped too loud," Jane followed Morris over the rail.
      "How the hell do you drop too loud?" Leon was whispering now, and catching up with the rest of the squad and holding his silenced BR55HB battle rifle close to his chest. Eric slapped him halfheartedly upside the head, looking cautiously at the dark towers around him.
      Three blazing escape shuttles shot down from orbit, one smashing its way through the sparking remains of the space elevator and crashing down on the far edge of the city. Almost immediately, the crash site was being hit by an orbital bombardment, the very same Covenant warship that had glassed the bridge destroying the falling remains of the UNSC frigate that had launched the shuttles, blue plasma bursts highlighting the deep red sky.
      "Like that," Morris shook his head and walked on, kicking at a dead jackal.
      Jonesy looked briefly at the stiff, vulture-like alien, shaking his head when he saw that its wrist had been stripped of its shield generator. The Covenant were getting smart and looting their dead to keep their technology out of human hands. He pointed his SMG at the ugly thing and pretended to shoot it.
      "Mrbungarrrrgurgllurk!" A series of strange sounds burped out of the jackal helmet as its headlights flickered out of existence. Startled, Jonesy let loose a burst of fire into the thing's head, splattering his legs with its purple blood.
      A long trail of twisting green and purple plasma found its end at the asphalt between Jonesy's feet and he fell back onto his bottom. Looking up, he saw the glowing helmet of a jackal sniper.
      "SNIPER!" Morris shouted and ducked behind the burnt out wreckage of a warthog, pointing at the obvious assailant," Take him out before he calls for backup!"
      Leon pointed his rifle at the offending jackal and fired, a trio of soft puffs accompanying the muzzle flash. The sniper jerked back, stumbled, then toppled over, tumbling head over heels off the roof until it landed in a heap on the street. Almost immediately, a crowd of drones was lined up on the roof.
      "Well, I did join for excitement-woah!" Jonesy shrugged and was pulled up and into a run by Eric. The squad sprinted for the pierside docks that could take them to the other side of the watery expanse, and the drones gave chase, the buzzing of their wings drowned out by the ceaseless, tinny, and sharp sounds of plasma pistol fire.
      "C'mon, c'mon!" Leon waved everyone over to the dock, closing in behind Jonesy once everyone had passed him. Jonesy could feek and hear the heavy clunking of his boots on the old wood, and the rippled, crystal clear water was very inviting.
      "Fucking MOVE, Jonesy!" Leon pushed on Jonesy's shoulder, and Jonesy sped up, weaving his way around Eric and Marsha until he reached-
      A needler crystal wove its wave through the air and embedded itself in Jonesy's left shoulder. He started to collapse when he felt someone tackle him, twisting him around. Before he hit the water, he saw five more crystals pierce the planks of the deck and explode, ripping it to splinters. Jonesy hit the water with a heavy splash, bubbles whipping up past his face, and the unseen figure pulled the crystal from his shoulder.
      Thumpffff! "MMMMMM!"
      Even underwater, Jonesy could hear the muffled explosion of the crystal, and his savior screaming. Still screaming in pain, he grabbed whoever it was by the shoulder, and started to swim to the shore. He saw legs plunge into the water, followed by hands, as Marsha pulled him and Eric onto the sandy beach and under the dock while the rest of the squad fought off the drones above.
      "Oh sweet monkey jebus! You alright?"
      "Don't think so," Jonesy shook his head and winced, then looked over at Eric's hand. The needler crystal must have exploded as soon as he had pulled it out of Jonesy, because his hand looked more like raw hamburger than anything that should be attached to a person.
      "AAAAH! AAAH! AAAH! AAAH-HA-HA-HAAAAA!" Eric screamed and clutched his wrist, but Marsha grabbed him and shoved him onto his back, withdrawing a biofoam canister and spraying the horrible grey froth over his hand. It immediately mixed with the blood and bubbled up red, then solidified, allowing her to sterilize and wrap his hand. Marsha then jabbed his shoulder with a strange needle full of green liquid Jonesy had not seen before, and he shuddered twice before falling back.
      "Jonesy, I need you to listen, kiddo, keep his arm elevated, and don't let him get hoit, o'kay?"
      Jonesy nodded.
      "Are you sure you're okay?"
      "Yeah, yeah."
      Marsha nodded, "Okay, I'll be right back!" and ran out shouting and firing her assault rifle like a madman. The screeches of the drones above were grating on everyone's ears, and though Jonesy couldn't see anything he could tell that more drones had joined the battle. The unmistakable whistling and dainty shattering of needler crystals made Jonesy all the more worried. Looking around, he found a piece of driftwood, and putting Eric against a weather-washed support, propped his comrade's hand up on the driftwood.
      "Stay here," Jonesy muttered, and he peered out from beneath the dock. An uncountable swarm of yellow mottled drones was flitting from mast to mast on the sailboats tied to the pier, the occasional two or three buzzing over to see if they could get to the squad hidden in the bait stands and getting shot down by a spray of automatic fire.
      Grunting as the pain from his left shoulder shot down his spine, Jonesy clipped his SMG to his belt and dug through his backpack full of looted covenant weaponry that was meant to be brought to ONI for study, and withdrew a needler pistol.
      Carefully, not knowing what to expect, Jonesy slid his hand around the handle and into the gauntlet-like system. He could find no trigger, and assumed the glowing orange area of the handle to serve as one. He turned on the sleek pink firearm and a ménage of crystals popped up from within the caddy.
      Jonesy pulled the trigger and some unknown automated system corrected what little recoil there was. On top of that, the deadly pink crystals followed whatever soft target they were fired at, making it nigh impossible to miss even with the drones swarming about. Three drones dropped as soon as they were hit, struggling violently in the water before sinking or dying, but one darker colored one refused to die. It screeched and reeled in pain, pointing its plasma pistol at Jonesy and looking like a flying pincushion until
      As if on some sort of preset moment, all of the crystals shattered-nay-exploded at once, vaporizing the drone and shredding those nearby. The swarm seemed to pause for a moment, as if it could not comprehend what had happened, and Jane took the opening, tossing a short-fused frag grenade into the swarm's center.
      The result was messy.

      "Shipmaster Otinree, a kig-yar scout reported a group of human sky-fallers on the other side of the bridge shortly before we lost his signal. Some yanme'e were sent in as per the instructions you set beforehand."
      Shipmaster Vas'Otinree turned to face his commanding officer, Gen'Shar Eksee, rubbing his lower mandibles," So? The heathen bastards have sent many of their sky-fallers to fight our ground armies. What of it?"
      Gen'Shar shrugged and replied as if he couldn't tell whether to worry about it or not," They've eliminated the drones and according to our tacticians, their most likely course is for the lifts we've installed nearby. We cannot abandon or shut down the lifts, and if the history of the war is anything to tell-"
      "Brothers, lend me your ears!" the voice of the fleetmaster rang out from the control panels and all activity on the bridge ceased, even the air was still.
      "We have been betrayed, lied to by our sacred covenant! The jiralhanae have turned, along with them, our prophets! Wipe the brutes from your ships! Cleanse them of their heresy!"
      "Treason! He speaks treason! Or at least, of it!" Gen'Shar looked excitedly to Vas, who stared awestruck at his monitor, then turned to Gen'Shar and nodded," Quickly! Get to the dens in the bowels of the ship, burn those beasts from their homes, they are likely to have heard the mess-"
      The shipmaster was brought to his knees by a horrible explosion that rocked the ship and dimmed the lights.
      "What in the name of the Journey was that?"
      "The jiralhanae assault frigate Remembrance, shipmaster," one of the pilots pointed at the monitor," It fired everything it had, I don't think it will be able to do so again for some time!"
      "Let us hope so," Vas nodded and turned to another crewmember,"How much damage was done?"
      "It was very focused, shipmaster, it destroyed a good portion of the drone hives, but our overall shields are still at sixty-two percent normal shielding, and we suffered the loss of only one lateral cannon."
      "Good, I want all weapons to target the Remembrance, let the brutes burn."

      "Shit man, look! Those ships are firing at each other!"
      "We can see that, Leon! Just concentrate on looking for jackals," Morris turned back to Eric, who was splayed out on a stretcher by the abandoned ambulance next to the casino. Any looters were now dead or long gone, and the scene around the plaza was grisly. An old crone was crushed beneath an ATM, three brutes were smeared across the road, one stuck to the grill of a smashed police car, and a brute with a face full of buckshot was heaped on top of a chewed-up pile of policemen.
      "What's going on though? I mean, why would they-"
      "Leon," Jane sighed," don't worry about it, okay? That'll just keep 'em from blasting us long enough for us to find some sort of anti-aircraft cannon or gravity lift or something."
      Jonesy lazily walked about the carnage, kicking at the brutes. All they had left behind in the way of technology was a broken mauler and what was left of the dead brute's power helmet, both of which he pocketed.
      "Hey!" he complained," I know Eric got busted up saving me and all, but when are we going to get moving again? We could probably get him to the hos…pit…al…"
      Jonesy grinned at his own brilliance.
      "Ha! I'd say I'm an idiot, but you're all here, and I'd prefer not to take the blame for not thinking this up sooner!"
      "The hell you talkin' about, asshole?" Marsha flipped Jonesy off as he ran towards the ambulance and jumped into the front seat, pulling out the dead driver and grimacing at the spike in the man's neck.
      "This thing's still got gas, doesn't it?"
      Eric coughed up a bloody laugh and nodded," I freakin' love this kid! Guys, get me in the back, we're taking my way and the highway!"
      Jane shook her head and helped Leon push Eric up and into the back of the ambulance, strapping the stretcher down and pressing another can of biofoam into Eric's hand. Marsha hopped into the passenger seat, and Morris climbed into the back, slamming shut and locking the insulated door.
      "We're all good!"
      "Alriigght!" Jonesy gave the thumbs up, but before he could slam his foot down on the pedal, Marsha grabbed him and waved her finger.
      "I'm driving, asshole!"
      "Sure thing, craz-eh lad-eh!" Jonesy grinned and switched seats with her, grabbing her assault rifle and looking out the window. Marsha put the ambulance into gear and took off with a bang, tires screeching and rubber burning as the heavy vehicle smashed past a flimsy detour barricade.
      "Map says the nearest hospital's the New Mombasa Central Station Clinic, about four miles thataway," Jane held a map out between Jonesy and Marsha, leeting Marsha see where she was pointing.
      "Alright, then," Marsha pulled hard left before turning to Jonesy and asking," Hey, you're all techy and shit, right? How come the crazy slipspace and plasma stuff didn't shut this ambulance down?"
      Jonesy shrugged, "I dunno, maybe city service vehicles have coil protectors to keep EMP from frying 'em."
      "Huh, that coitantly makes a good bit a-SHIT!"
      The ambulance plowed through a small crowd of grunts relaxing at a patrol stop, sending a spray of luminescent blue blood over the windshield. The brute leading the unfortunate beasts leapt out of the way, though its foot was clipped and it was sent spinning into an unfinished shade turret.
      "Think we got 'em?" Morris asked, peering out the small back door windows.
      "I don't know," Jane shook her head, we might have missed one or-"
      Three large, glowing blue circles appeared on the back doors, and the inside of the ambulance suddenly heated up. The brute had given chase on a ghost! More blue circles appeared on the back doors, and the insulated metal began to sag from the heat.
      "One thing after another, huh?" Eric grimaced as Leon opened the door slightly and dropped a fragmentation grenade. The ghost zipped past the grenade, barely shaking from its blast.
      "Move over, Leon" Jane held the handle down on her grenade for two seconds before dropping it," You've got to let them cook a little bit."
      The grenade exploded directly beneath the ghost, lifting the craft up and spinning it out of control. The brute wrestled the handles and the ghost hit the ground with a heavy crash before lifting itself back up and resuming its path straight towards the ambulance. It pulled up alongside the speeding white and red vehicle, and Jonesy ducked down. Not seeing Jonesy, the brute leaped from the ghost, letting it crash explosively into a pillar. It reached in, snarling at Marsha and slobbering over the side of the door.
      Jonesy popped up from behind the door, jamming the barrel of Marsha's assault rifle into the brute's mouth and grabbing its crimson plasma rifle. The brute emitted a startled grunt through the mouthful of metal and Jonesy pulled the trigger.
      Dark red blood sprayed over the seats and slid down Jonesy's visor, and the brute fell back in a tumbling heap, leaving Jonesy with its plasma rifle.
      "There's another for those eggheads back in Naval Intelligence," Morris nodded at Jonesy's 'new toy'.
      "Yeah, right? This crap is starting to weigh me down!"
       Two beam rifle shots cut precisely through the roof of the ambulance, exiting through the floor and leaving glowing green holes.
      "This shit just never ends!" Marsha brought the ambulance around a sharp right turn, sliding up onto the curb and speeding down a back alley. Dumpsters and garbage bags blurred by with the metal plating of the skyscrapers. The lights along the walls went on and on.
      Unfortunately, the road did not.
      The ambulance crushed a low concrete ledge, plowing through and zipping off over the edge, flying for yards and yards before crushing a brute and crashing into a reinforced concrete pillar. The last thing Jonesy saw was a spray of sandbags and dark red brute blood whipping past his head.