Posted By: The Meep<HaloFanatic101@yahoo.com>
Date: 15 November 2007, 6:54 am
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"Bud, Huff, its Fredrik. Sorry that I've been out of contact for so long. I'll be traveling to the Big Y soon enough. Can't wait to get out of the Lost system. I'll be arriving sometime next week, SAC, give or take a day. Stupid SlipStorms make Slipspace travel more annoying than Military Drafters. See ya then, F."
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The darkness is the worst part. You're in full combat gear: helmet, blast deflectors, basic underarmor, shocks, boots, and UI. Your worn MA5B weighs heavily on your back, and it's ammo is packed into the utility belt on your waist. A single lock holster sheaths your M6E pistol, a large bore version of the M6D with eight oversized slugs. The heavy weapon is attached to your right thigh, and it feels like dead weight. But you know how many times it's saved your ass.
Your Battle Awareness Display marks three IFF marks near you: Corporals Long and Tai and Sergeant Minor Latis. Long is on point, you and Latis are pulling up right and left, and Tai is covering the rear. Your in pitch blackness, an inky void of an overcast night where you can't see more than five feet in any direction. The forst, with it's thick trees and hanging foliage, does little to help.
You were seperated from a scout regiment of 20 men during a Covenant ambush. Your mission: probe the strength of the Covenant emplacements to the south of Shell's Ridge, where UNSC and Covenant forces were prepapring for battle. You hear distant artillery fire, and know that the fight has begun without you. You just hope that you can make it back in time for the after party.
The flashlights on your weapons go unheeded: their light could signal your location to hostile forces, a bad thing in an occupied region in the dead of night.
The path you follow was a hiker's trail, popular amongst Indigo's tourists, and so is mostly devoid of trip roots and rocks. But the almost twisted ankle earlier makes you proceed cautiously.
Long stops, raises a hand, and pats empty air. You and your squad stop and crouch, pulling out your weapons. Long makes another obscure gesture, and you react accordingly. Standing up, you continue down the hiking trail, using what little ambient light the claustrophobic forest provides to help see rocks and roots. It helps little, and you stumble frequently.
But soon something seems wrong. The foot falls behind you cease to exist. Turning, you peer into the inky blackness for Tai, but see only darkness. Long and Latis notice too, and the group stops. "Tai?" you whisper as you search for your old drinking buddy. "Tai?" you repeat, more urgently.
The next thirty minutes is spent searching for the lost squad member, but Corporal Tai is nowhere to be found. The only thing your search yields is a single MA5C casing, still warm, newly ejected. But you heard no gunshot. The finding puzzles you and worries you.
"We have to keep moving. We'll let HQ know when we get back. They'll set up an S&R," orders Latis, and you leave the area with regret gnawing at your mind. The empty casing is placed securely in an ammo pouch, and you whisper a silent prayer to Tai's safety.
Another hour passes, and the woods start to thin out. Long, like Tai, dissapears into thin air. No screams, no gunfire, no scuffling, running, or struggling. Just silence. You feel the icy grip of fear squeeze your heart as Latis authorizes the use of the flashlights. You flick on your own, but the thin beam does little to light up the void. Your fear only increases as you realize you can only see a miniscule fraction of your surroundings at any given time.
Latis realizes the danger you and her are in, and says not to search for Long. He and Tai are dead men. The icy fear clamps shut, and your heart struggles to keep going.
You and Latis start off at a fast walk, but quickly break into a brisk trot. The fast pace, rough terrain, heavy gear, and cold fear start to strain you, and you find yourself short of breath. Your flashlight is trained on Latis' back as you jog.
The thin forest begins to thicken again, and it begins to resemble the density where Tai vanished. Suddenly, you hear a crunch of a branch. A fear induced jerk wheels your MA5B to face the sound, but the thin beam reveals nothing. You turn back to face Latis, but in the two seconds you were looking away, she too has vanished.
Panic sets in, and you sprint down the trail. The flashlight is useless as the gun it's mounted on is swinging with the terrified vibrations of your arms. It's not long before you trip over a rock, twisting your ankle and severely bruising your leg. You grimace with pain, but manage to crawl off the perilous path and mount yourself against a fallen tree trunk. You lost your gun in the fall, and your pistol is missing too.
The night is still pitch black, and you know you're about to be taken, just like the rest of your squad. Remembering something, you take the single casing Tai left behind from your ammo pouch. At this moment, you finally divine it's purpose, and origin. Tai's weapon was silenced, and so went unheard as it fired. But a single shot couldn't have been fired in the surprise Tai experienced when he was taken, and you realize it was his way of saying "Help me."
You reason that it's too late to help Tai now, and so you clamp the casing between your teeth, biting down to hold it in place. Oddly enough, you find yourself relaxed, at ease with your inevitable fate. As you taste the acrid gunpowder residue in the casing, you close your eyes and let your head lean against the tree, letting the silence of the still forest take you in, before they do.