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Longsword R: Breakthrough
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 15 November 2005, 6:54 am

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1035 hours, November 23, (Military Calendar) Cockpit of Marcus Easley's Northrop-Grumman Longsword S Interceptor, Earth local space

      How, a voice in his head asked.
      He's supposed to be dead, said another. Marcus checked his radar box. Nothing.
      But you just heard him, the first voice objected.
      But he's dead! Marcus checked the rearview camera. Nothing.
      A moment of silence, and then both voices, simultaneously…
      Could James be right? Could God really…exist? But then why, asked the doubting voice in his head, did he allow that to happen to you, let alone twice?
      I don't know.
      Why didn't he stop Nix if he really exists?
      I don't know.
      What kind of caring and loving—and above all, just—God would let that happen to you when you were five years old? Five years old! No true god would allow something like that to happen! the doubting voice continued with heavy sarcasm. Five years old! Some loving God. Another moment of silence and then the other voice responded:I don't know. But how do you explain the Colonel being alive?
      …I don't know.

1035 hours, November 23, (Military Calendar) Bridge of the UNSC Cruiser-Carrier, Maverick

      Reeves managed to unfreeze just in time to hear Eagle utter a curse, followed by "They're jamming the admirals!"
      "Can you tell me which one of them?"
      "Every single one of them, sir! We can't get any transmissions from Admiral Stanforth! Not even anything from Admiral Harper!" How did they know which ships to jam…?
      "Then who's the highest ranking officer left?"
      "You are, sir. Twenty seconds until the Covenant hit our line." Reeves's head snapped up. He was the highest ranking officer? That meant that every single ship in the UNSC fleet was now under his command.
      "Are they jamming us?"
      "No. Fifteen seconds; we're getting requests for orders…" Reeves glanced at the holotank again. It showed the remainder of the UNSC fleet spread out in one long, thin defensive line, with the Covenant fast approaching, mostly on the inside of the line, close to Earth.
      What had Admiral Hood been thinking? He was dead now, Reeves couldn't ask him. Then suddenly, he made the connection.
      The American Civil War…Gettysburg…the swinging gate maneuver!
      "Eagle, order all allied ships from this point out," Reeves jabbed his right index finger at the last Marathon class cruiser on the line, the Dragon Lady, "to swing in and hit them from the side. Do it now!"
      "Yes, sir! Ten seconds to intercept! There's still quite a few of them left, sir. This may be too little too late."
      "I know. Sakura, what's the status of our Triple MACs?"
      "Way ahead of you, sir. All four are above eighty percent charge and climbing. They're ready whenever you are."
      "Release locks on all Spitfire missiles and fire at will."
      "Incoming plasma torpedoes!" Eagle said loudly enough to gain the Captain's attention. Reeves looked out of the bridge; the Covenant had fired from close range, hoping that the Humans would have no room to maneuver. Unfortunately, if Reeves's plan was to work, they couldn't. The ships on the inside of the line had to hold their ground so that the gate could close and hit the Covenant hard.
      "Understood. Keep us right here unless one comes straight for us. As soon as one does, hit the fore emergency thrusters and back us up so we can move a little."
      "Yes, sir. None appear to be tracking us at the moment." Reeves returned his attention to the holotank; the Human ships began to move, agonizingly slow at first, but rapidly gaining momentum.
      "MACs are hot, firing now!" Sakura yelled as the Maverick shook mightily, creating a buzzing, rumbling sound. Twelve MAC rounds out in space, bound for four separate targets. Eagle began calling out the hits again, but Reeves was to intent on the holotank to notice. By now, the frigates and destroyers on the line had come around and opened up, creating a hellish crossfire. Reeves saw ships hammered by four, five, six simultaneous MAC rounds nearly disintegrate from the force of the impacts. Many simply exploded or broke in half.
      The Covenant's confusion was immediate. A few ships tried to reverse their course in vein, running into their mates; several warmed up their plasma torpedo firing lines, but were destroyed before they could get more shots off; fewer got lucky and managed to avoid getting hit at all, though they were trapped by the debris.
      The smallest group of Covenant ships was neither hit by fire nor trapped by debris—or was able to get around it –and continued towards the line at a suicidal pace.
      "Eagle," Reeves ordered, "order all ships to break and attack. It's a melee now. How many are left?" Eagle "exhaled" deeply, his representation of dumping a few subroutines in relief.
      "Just over ninety, sir. We're almost one-on-one with them, now."
      "Excellent," Reeves replied as a flaming Phantom suddenly shot by the bridge, causing everyone to jump. Apparently, the point-defense system was doing its job admirably. What was revealed when it left made the bridge crew realize that Phantoms falling from the sky were the least of their worries.
      A Covenant frigate with small fires all over it and four giant holes in it was racing straight towards them.
      "Where'd that thing come from?" someone screamed.
      "No idea! Eagle get us—" Reeves said, but his sentence was cut short by the explosion of the fore emergency thruster. Reeves was pitched forward, thrown through the holotank, and into a low wall, which barely prevented him from being catapulted into "the pit", a seven foot deep area that held the COM and NAV stations. He managed to twist his head out of the way in order to avoid breaking his neck, but he heard something snap as his left shoulder hit hard.
      "Spitfires away!" reported Sakura, barely audible over the collision klaxons that Eagle had activated. The Spitfires leapt away from the Maverick on their white, smoky contrails. Explosions weaved along the Covenant frigate's hull, but it continued on, possibly on momentum alone as the bridge might have already been taken out.
      Reeves tried to haul himself up by grabbing the wall, but his left arm wouldn't move. The captain managed to swing himself around and pulled himself up with right arm, causing stars to explode in his vision as the pain, which had been dulled momentarily by adrenaline, hit him full force. He staggered to his feet, suddenly woozy, and he realized he was bleeding. The deck began to rock beneath his feet. It hurt to turn his neck, so he felt his left shoulder with his right arm; he felt bare bone, which sent another blast of pain and stars into his eyes. And blood. Lots and lots of blood. A wave of dizziness hit him, causing him to stumble back to his chair, where he collapsed.
      "No good, it's still on a collision course!" someone yelled. Reeves realized he was beginning to lose consciousness.
      "Fire another thruster," Reeves commanded, hazily. "…and get me a medic…"
      "Sir, we can't! Doing so at this speed and direction would send us into a spin, no matter which thruster we fire. We can't risk going into a spin this close to Earth!"
      Then…Reeves thought slowly. What can we do?
      "Get us out of the way…as best you can."
      "I'll try, sir, but it's going to at least graze us."
      "Right…" The captain was vaguely aware that someone was desperately trying to patch his shoulder up, but Reeves knew he had lost too much blood. His vision slowly began to fade to black. Reeves barely heard the scream of the collision klaxon, and was even less aware of the shattering of the bridge lights and screams of bridge personnel when the frigate collided with the Maverick…and then was aware of nothing.

1037 hours, November 23, (Military Calendar) Cockpit of Marcus Easley's Northrop-Grumman Longsword S Interceptor, Earth local space

      It took Six yelling, "The Maverick! She's hit bad!" to shake the Major out of his stupor. He brought his Longsword back around, to observe the damage. What he saw made him gasp. The frigate may have landed a glancing blow, but that still meant that the Maverick was, for all intents and purposes, out of the fight. A good portion of the Maverick's rear-port deck had been ripped completely away, revealing the ship's superstructure. The engines were beginning to darken from their characteristically white color as the wound down.
They engine were out of commission, probably along with its weapon systems. She was dead in the water. With the Maverick and the Bunker Hill gone, the Human line began to falter.
      The shock took a few moments to register for Marcus. The Maverick was one of the most powerful ships left in the Human fleet, and had really been the anchor of the line during the swinging gate maneuver. Covenant ships were making a beeline for the hole left by the Marathon-class cruiser, and were beginning to leak through, casualties not seeming to matter to them. At this point, they were desperate to get to the planet, regardless of losses. Their tactics went out the window, along with their caution.
      Marcus was only marginally surprised when the Cairo, one of the thirty Super MACs left above Earth opened up, literally shattering the first Covenant ship through the line. It had to be careful, though, as a miss could too easily wreck a Human ship.
      With the way that the Super MACs were arrayed around Earth, only the Cairo was able to fully open up on the Covenant fleet, which was a problem. The Covenant now had a direct shot at getting to the surface. As if that weren't enough, some Seraphs and Phantoms had broken through the Longswords' screen, and were now threatening the Super MACs. Marcus keyed his COM.
      "One flight, report and stores check."
      "Lead, this is Two. I'm running with ten Vipers, seven Diamondbacks. Copperheads are all still here. Fuel and control are fine."
      "Three here. I've still got a lot of fuel, but I'm running low on missiles. Four Vipers, six Diamondbacks. Three Copperheads are still with me, sir. I saw a troopship heading planet side, so I took it out. "
      "Four, same."
      "Five is Winchester, Lead," Chase reported, meaning that he had used up all his Vipers and Diamondbacks. "But I've still got Copperheads."
      "Good. Unfortunately, the Maverick's out of the picture, and I—" Marcus's sentence was cut short as he was interrupted by a blast of static.
      "Marcus, can you hear me? This is the Maverick."
      "I read you, sir, but you're shaky. Is that you, Saldanna?"
      "Yeah, it is. Listen, your squadron is now under the command of Admiral Harper. Your assignment is to keep any more Covenant ships from getting past the main Super MAC, the Cairo; it's the Super MAC that's already opened up. One assault carrier's already broken through the line, and slipped past it by using the debris as cover. You're going to take out any more that even think about getting by it." Saldanna's voice began to fade back into static.
      "But what about the Maverick? You still need our protection!"
      "Negative, Swordsmen Leader. I don't know how bad the damage looks from out there, but it doesn't look so bad from in here. We can still limp through this fight. Engines are gone, but power didn't take a serious hit, so the MAC can still go a few more rounds. We've still got most of our Spits and whatever that new weapon is. Captain Reeves is unconscious and has lost a lot of blood, but Eagle's handling it. Point defense is good. Get going."
      "Are you insane?" Marcus asked, but he received no response. He uttered a low curse under his breath, and then, "All right, let's get us an assault carrier. Swordsmen Squadron, this is Swordsmen leader," he spoke into the COM. "For all intents and purposes, the Maverick is dead in the water. Our new orders are to take out any more Covenant ships that try to slip past the Cairo. Starting", he said as he held his gaze on an assault carrier in his radar grid, "with that one right there."