Posted By: Xen Wolfe<email@example.com>
Date: 21 February 2008, 1:37 am
The night is quiet.
My helmet, green even when resting among the strands of grass, reflects moonlight from its polished golden visor. The surroundings are distorted in the slightly uneven surface, and I look up at the stars, remembering a day long ago in a training exercise when I had done the same.
The night feels odd without my helmet. Wind blows across my face, making me shiver slightly. The completely climate-controlled environment of my suit is gone, but for the loss of protection, I can hear the noises of nature untainted.
Crickets chirp in the forests which lie to the south, and in the grass all around me. Water trickles through a stream to my east, and the sound is calming, a word I am unused to thinking. Battle is all I know, and I was bred to face it—not to relax. But this moment is clear of distraction and of explosions, devoid of bullets and plasma scorching the air around me.
I click the armor-lock around my gauntlets and unseal them, placing them inside my upside-down helmet. The grass is soft against my fingers—another word which does not fit in my world which is constantly at war. The reactive gel layer of my suit is supposed to be soft, cushioning, but in reality it is hard and unforgiving. Armor is armor, after all, despite what the techs add.
The moon is brilliant above me, one day past full brightness. Now it will start to wane, and eventually the white orb will be missing from the sky.
My chest and arm plates unlock and slide off as I press the appropriate section-locks, and I heft the chest plate with one arm, sliding it next to my helmet with ease. My arms find their way behind my head, and I sigh, watching the stars and wondering how they could have spawn the creatures of the Covenant.
There is a rustle in the grass.
I act on instinct, no room for thought but all the time in the world for pure reaction. My hands find the shaped grip of my combat knife which is latched into a panel on my leg armor, and I pull it out, running and crouching in the stream which trickles through this grassy field. The handle of the knife is odd in my bare hands, and my entire upper body feels slow without the amplifying action of the armor.
Green bolts of deadly light sizzle past overhead, joined a moment later by a flurry of blue. I bury my head in the damp grass, hoping pink won't follow.
Odd, nervous chittering noises come from in front of me, and a blue glow springs into life in the distance. I raise my head and see two beings: one is tall, seven feet at least, and another shorter, carrying a shield. The tall one has my helmet in its hands.
I crawl on the ground, low, trying to keep silent as I seek to stealthily approach from behind. I pray that the Elite has no hearing augmentation in its helmet, but it seems that it is too occupied. A throaty chuckle emits from its segmented jaw, and I realize that it is gloating.
Springing up into a combat stance just five feet behind them, I switch my knife into a backhand grip, creeping towards them both as the Elite speaks to the Jackal. I raise my hand high and swipe down, aiming for the Elite's unprotected neck, but at the worst possible moment it bends down to pick up another piece of my armor.
My blade swishes past and the Jackal notices me, squawking in surprise, and I throw the knife without any other thoughts. The seven-inch blade slams into the creature's thin skull, dropping it to the ground and collapsing the shield. I roll beneath the Elite's attempt at a grab and unsnap the Jackal's shield from its place, then snap it onto my arm and let it spring to life.
The Elite's first blow causes the blue surface to waver, the second causes me to move back. Then it seems to remember something and reaches for its real weapon, and then I make my move.
The color of the Elite's armor denotes a scout unit, equipped for stealth but lacking shields. I collapse the shield in my hands and swing my fist as fast as it will move without armor, connecting solidly with the lower right mandible of the alien's four-sectioned jaw. It lets out a sound of surprise, snapping its head to the side as it feels the impact, and I follow up with a punch to both of the lower jaws.
It reels back, disoriented, and I jump to where my weapons lie on the ground, retrieving my pistol and bringing it to bear with blurring speed. The 12-round clip is empty within four seconds, but due to my bare-handed grip, many of the shots go wild, and only four strike their mark on the alien's chest armor.
The creature howls a cry of pain and advances with its plasma weapon drawn, and I dive as bolts of searing blue energy carbonize the grass and dirt beside me. My hand finds the grip of my BR55HB, and I bring it up, slapping my left hand onto the forward grip and squeezing off a burst. The first shot rips through the Elite's leg armor, and the other two go wild as the recoil takes me by surprise.
Completely defeated, the Elite looks up in hatred as I advance, howling loudly as a now-steady three-round burst splinters its helmet and takes its life.
I slot my armor back into place and clamp my weapons into their places, reloading both my rifle and pistol as the roar of Pelicans shakes the air around me. The high whine of Banshee plasma cannons combine with the noise, and the light of plasma bolts and tracer rounds turn the night sky into a spectacular fireworks display.
My rifle settles into my hands easily, and I pump the charging handle hard, preparing.
Time to finish the fight.