Guns of the Enlightened: Chapter 3
Posted By: Zerodev<email@example.com>
Date: 6 December 2006, 3:34 pm
0625 hours, November 4, 2552 (Military Calendar)
UNSC MAC Orbital Platform Bombay, Earthian Sol System
near Earth Moon
"Damn those ONI spooks and their bureaucratic time-wasting. Griffith, get your ass down here on the double!"
Commander Harrison was not happy. Even before the Covenant's initial attack, his MAC gun lacked the AI to run it. It had been almost a month since that attack, with the Office of Naval Intelligence promising a new and improved tactical AI. It was due to arrive on the Bombay today three hours too late.
Harrison was afraid of that. Every time he queried someone, anyone, about this situation he got the same answer. Almost every station had been outfitted or retrofitted with an artificial. The Bombay was dead last on the waiting list. It was, after all, at a pseudo-Lagrange point between Earth and the battered Moon, not exactly line-of-sight in a defensive battle.
He finally was able to coax a solid ETA as a favor from an old friend, Colonel Ruskav. Ivan was scheduled for download from FleetCom at 0900 hours. He was a "revolutionary" new AI that was going to help turn the tide in space battles. That's what they said about the last artificials developed. Harrison always had his doubts.
Those doubts became moot when slipspace bubbles began appearing at the edge of the Solar System.
"Rothstein, scramble the Longswords. Jones, get your men in place!"
FleetCom had instituted new protocol for every orbital platform. The Covenant had uncharacteristically made a mistake with their initial botched invasion not only had they been repelled, they lost a major tactical advantage. Harrison and every other platform commander now had three Longsword squads and a naval Destroyer protecting them from Covenant insertions, and a Marine battalion to repel boarders. They made several attacks since that first one, all in similar fashion. The Covenant would have to take down the platforms the hard way.
Every platform, of course, except the Bombay. FleetCom probably thought the moon was enough protection. Resources were thin, so they cut the Bombay's line of defense to just one group of Longswords.
There would be no more botched attacks no fewer than 300 major contacts appeared on the edge of the system.
"Bastards finally came to finish this," he muttered, "Guess we'll have to fly this solo."
Lieutenant Mario P. Griffith was a naval weapons specialist, but he would have fit right in as an ODST. The UNSC typically frowned on tattoos and loud music, and Griffith was an obvious exception. If he had not set so many records at the academy, he would have landed with the Marine Corps. He wished he would have purposely bombed all those tests, but he could not resist kicking everyone else's tail.
Fear Factory, an ancient "hardcore" band, blared through his cramped quarters as he took a razor to his head. His CO always wished he would let that razor loose on his face Griffith had a knack for keeping some sort of facial hair, against regulations of course.
"Griffith, get your ass down here on the double!" bellowed Harrison over his COM.
"Great," the lieutenant said, "Probably another damn simulation. I'll make him sweat."
Griffith was untouchable. In 76 combat simulations, he had scored 73 direct hits with the station's MAC cannon. Without an AI. Griffith was a deadeye from 50,000 kilometers. Even though he had help from the station's computer system, his accuracy was already legend.
He had just finished the left half of his head, however, when he felt the subtle shift in gravity. Griffith dropped his razor and sprinted straight to the command deck sans UNSC issue uniform shirt.
The crew needed a laugh to break the tension. Covenant had been spotted at the edge of the system. Earth had expected this ever since the day New Mombasa was vaporized. There was no more hiding the truth. Ironically, military enlistment tripled since that day. Maybe the human race should have known the truth all along; they might have been able to win a few more fights.
"Ivan's stuck on a virtual drive down in Sydney, looks like we're on our own. Griffith somebody get him a damn shirt get your ass in gear and ready protocols."
The mood was grim. Even though everyone knew this was coming, humans faced extinction that day. Sure, there were a few more sparsely populated colonies, but if they lost Earth, they lost everything.
Griffith was ready for this. He was the star of his class. Hell, he was the star of the last 40 classes. He still had a problem what would he shoot? The moon made for nice target practice, but hardly gave him a real shooting solution.
Ensign Remy returned with the rest of Griffith's uniform.
Wrong size!" Griffith growled.
Remy was already on her next task, so he was stuck with a shirt that was two sizes too big. It was a petty thing anyways.
Flashes began dotting the view screen as other orbital platforms began firing.
"Listen up, men," Harrison barked, "I don't know who these bastards have as a CO, but they're sure acting stupid. They're still trying to board platforms, but their ships are moving in range of our cannons. Looks like they forgot how to fight us."
Harrison was right, and that worried him. The Covenant rarely made mistakes, and they had made plenty already. They tried to board platforms like they had in the past, but they failed to account for the new defenses. Most boarding parties were annihilated before they got within 100 kilometers of a station. That was good news, except for the Bombay.
Somehow the Covenant knew about their location. Even worse, they seemed to pay special attention to his station. For whatever reason, three boarding parties accompanied by Seraph fighters were detected on a burn around the moon right at Bombay station.
"Griffith, what's our status?" he shouted.
"Magnetic coils at 95% full charge in 10 seconds, sir!"
"Take aim at Crises."
"The Sea of Crises, Giffith. Christ, you're a crack shot in space but you don't even know your own moon?"
"Yes, sir," Griffith replied. That was just stupid, and he felt it. But he needed every ounce of confidence.
"The Covenant seem to have taken a liking to our little station, boys. Griffith, take out those bastards when they come around the moon!"
ONI had cooked up some delicious new tech for MAC accelerator rounds. After years of scavenging and improving Covenant technology, the UNSC finally got a boon when Cortana plundered Covenant technology and records while on the Ascendant Justice. Among other things, ONI developed an explosive plasma round that could be detonated on impact or remotely.
This was especially useful in taking out a group of smaller craft. Perfect.
Griffith keyed in coordinates and the cannon slowly swiveled. "Magnetic coils at 100%, re-routing energy to recharge buffers. We'll have a second shot within 30 seconds."
"Excellent. Fire at will!"
Harrison hoped this would work. He knew the Bombay would likely be boarded regardless, he just hoped he could reduce enemy forces enough for his Marines to have a chance.
The computer screamed at Griffith. Covenant dropships and Seraphs began appearing on the edge of the Moon. He waited three full seconds, then fired.
Lights flickered and the station shuddered as the round accelerated out from the cannon. Griffith was glued to his screen, waiting for the exact moment to detonate the round. Sweat dripped down into his eye, but he did not flinch.
Suddenly, a bright blue flash appeared on the screen. Griffith had not done anything, but the round detonated.
"You lucky bastard, you actually hit something?" Harrison laughed.
Griffith admitted this hit was pure luck. He had no intention of hitting the tiny drop ships or Seraph fighters. He managed to do so anyways, taking out two boarding parties and half the Seraphs to boot.
That was the best he could do. Even with the quick recharge, the cannon could not track the quick Covenant craft at this close of a distance.
"Get those Longswords in formation. Prepare for intruders!" howled Harrison. They would have to fight the rest off the hard way.