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Chapter 2: The Few, The Proud
Posted By: Ace<kevin_jesse2002@yahoo.com>
Date: 11 May 2003, 4:19 AM

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hey guys, if im lucky, this is coming out the same day as chapter 1...as always, read an critique, ill put up chapters 3 and 4 asap

Chapter 2: The Few, the Proud

August 23, 2555, 0630 Earth Time, UNSC Destroyer The Phoenix

The first thing Sean did when he awoke from the hour or so of restful sleep he had gotten after returning from the gym was put on his MJOLNIR II battle armor. As soon as he had his helmet on, his personal AI construct, Tyger, said, "Hello handsome, ready for another day of beautiful slipspace?" She giggled. Sean sighed. Why do we really need smart AI's in the armor? But at heart, Sean knew he would never trade Tyger for any other AI.

He trusted her like he trusted Danielle, and loved her nearly as much. She had saved his life on a great many occasions, and those occasions had become more and more frequent the farther they ventured into Covenant space. She had been his mother, his sister, his love-of-his-life until Danielle had come along. He still loved her, and he was glad that she felt no resentment or jealousy towards the woman who had stolen his heart.

Tyger knew that he still loved her, and she was happy that he was happy. "I think you know that today will very well not be pure slipspace travel, Tyger," he said. "Oh, you must be referring to the Covenant outpost that we'll be reaching within three hours," she replied, "I thought you of all people might know that all fighting has been cancelled, on account of the Covenant abandoning their outpost in fear." She giggled again.

"Tyger, you know I hate it when you get so overconfident."
"You know, contrary to popular belief, just because you're a Spartan doesn't mean you can't celebrate once in a while, and you have to admit, there has been some miraculous changes in the state of war over the past year."
Sean sighed. But she was right to a lesser degree, he knew. Two Covenant outposts destroyed nine months ago, and an entire planet claimed from them just last month.

Reports came in every few days of new jumps in human plasma research. Humans had also claimed two other uninhabited planets, full of natural resources, and the upsurge in resources resulted in a progressively bigger and better fleet. The shield technology that had once been such a precious commodity afforded only to Spartan's MJOLNIR armor was now standard on every ship.

And the ship Sean was on was one of the more impressive models, a Spartan-Class Destroyer. Three hundred Spartan soldiers were housed on board, along with about seven thousand marines. The ship herself sported two Super-MAC guns, with a hundred rounds between them, along with twenty-six pods of Archer missile launchers, and of course the standard compliment of five nuclear warheads. Sean felt that there could be no safer place in the universe for a human to be...except of course for Earth.

Ten percent of the fleet was in Earth orbit at any given time, and when ships needed an overhaul after long periods of fighting with the Covenant, they headed for Earth. There were literally hundreds of stations in Earth orbit, and concentric circles of outposts were constantly monitoring for any signs of Covenant activity within fifty light-years. The current military campaign seemed to be too brilliant to lose.

Humans were expanding as far as possible, forcing back the Covenant. But thinking about it would only inflate Sean's ego, so he began to walk down to the Spartans' barracks. On the way he planned out a pep talk, to prepare them for the day ahead. As soon as he stepped into the humongous room, lined with bunks and lockers, there was a rumble of footsteps as every Spartan snapped to attention at the foot of their bunks. "Soldiers," Sean yelled, "briefing room on the double!" They all turned as one towards the door at the rear of the room, and jogged to it.

Sean was the last one into the auditorium-like room, just in time to see two hundred ninety-nine soldiers all sit as one. He walked to the front of the room where the holographic projector sat, and asked Tyger for a map of the very uniform Covenant outpost. "Spartans," he barked, "today's mission will split us up into ten groups of thirty. The effective commander of each team will lead them in through one of these ten access points." Tyger lit up ten spots of gold at different areas on the outpost. "Chief Petty Officer Adamson, you will divide up the teams now, A through J. I will lead A. Every team must have at least two heavy artillery experts."

Immediately letters began appearing next to each Spartan's name on the Master Chief's HUD. He smiled behind his gold, reflective visor as he saw that John Adamson had placed himself in A team, under Sean. The pair had become best friends during Spartan training, and had learned through much experience that one could count on the other. Once the teams were all divided, he decided to start with his pep talk. He recounted his dream from the night before to them all.

When he finally finished he asked if any of them could interpret the dream. John stood up and said, "Well, sir, there could be many ways to analyze that, but I'd say that it has something to do with the feeling of invincibility. The war for us has been going better and better, and we may all feel invincible, but we should never let ourselves get caught up in the feeling, lest it proves our undoing. Or perhaps it tells us all to be wary of new threats." Someone from the back called out, "Or maybe it just means that CPO Adamson would be better suited towards a psychoanalyst job back on Earth."

That sent a roar of laughter through the entire briefing room. Sean thought it was good to have such bouts of laughter in such times as these. Soon, after a few of the finer points of the battle plan, Sean dismissed everyone for the ten minutes before they would be leaving Slipspace. As they all filed back into the barracks, Sean took note of how everyone dealt with the upcoming battle.

The few of them with religions were gathered hand-in-hand in circles, all with heads bowed. Sean walked up beside Danielle, edging obligingly into the circle of Christians she was praying with. She grasped his hand firmly, and he returned the gesture. He did not join in with the prayer, nor with the amen at the end. As they turned away, Danielle leaned towards Sean and said, "I'll convert you one day Mr. Hawke."

He looked down into her visor in only half mock disapproval, and replied, "The day you convert me is the day I allow you to call me Mr. Hawke in front of the men." Tyger's voice sounded into Sean's helmet, and he put her on open COM. "All Spartans report to the launch bay and prepare to leave Slipspace." "Alright Spartans, you heard the lady, triple-time it," Sean yelled.

They filed into the corridor, and began running to the armory in two single-file lines. They ran into the huge room, and were grabbing for weaponry. Sean quickly side-armed a pistol and hunting knife. He then picked up a grenade belt, a shotgun, and an assault rifle. He brought along a hundred and thirty-eight shells to compliment the twelve already in the shotgun, and ten clips of assault rifle ammo.

He double-checked his weapons to make sure they were all fully loaded, and once everyone confirmed readiness, he ordered them into the adjoining launch bay. "Team leaders, get everyone into a Pelican, now," he barked out. He ordered A team into a Pelican, and ran to the front himself to pilot it. Tyger's voice came again over open COM, saying, "Leaving Slipspace in ten seconds, we should be about a thousand kilometers away from the outpost. Leaving Slipspace in four...three...two...one..."

The opaque metal shields that covered all the portholes throughout the ship to protect from the blinding lights of Slipspace lifted. The launch bay doors opened, leaving only the force field between the room and vacuum. "Spartans, pressurize MJOLNIRs now," said Master Chief over open COM. Outside the force field, in the distance, Sean saw ten Covenant frigates surrounding their shades-of-purple outpost. "Jesus," whispered Danielle behind him as she crossed herself.

He had to concur. Suddenly the other two destroyers that had been traveling with them appeared from Slipspace with a shimmering of stretched green pinpoints of light. The frigates were medium-class Covenant vessels, and ten of them were a frightening sight to behold. But three heavy human destroyers were a nearly equal match. Then Sean had formed a plan in his mind.

"Which team has the most rocketeers in it," he asked the Spartans. "We do sir, C team, four rocketeers, all fully loaded," came the reply over the COM. "We also have four sir, J team." "Alright," said Sean, "C team leader, highlight a Covenant frigate. You too J team leader." Two gold spots appeared over two different ships on his HUD. "OK, C team and J team, your rocketeers will do a helljump into space, and use their jetpacks to maneuver into position. They will concentrate their fire on the selected ships' shields, and when they are down, leaders will pick them up and they will take their teams to board the ships. Tyger, relay my plan to the Captains of our ships."

Ten seconds later, her voice came back to him, "Done, and I've flagged the ships the teams have chosen. They will concentrate their fire on the others." Over his COM, the Master Chief heard the announcement that the launch bay shields were coming down. Tyger counted down, "Three...two...go." Sean lifted off as the shields powered down. He throttled the controls, and with the extra speed of the depressurization, the ship closed on the outpost nearly as fast as the destroyers were bearing down on the frigates.

Once within a few kilometers, he killed speed for boarding. He approached an airlock and fitted their specialized docking clamps over the door. He signaled to his rocketeers, who were already jumping up to position themselves in front of the Pelicans hatch. When they gave the thumbs up, he blew the seal and jumped up behind them with his shotgun at the ready. No one else approached the door, just in case the Covenant had the same idea as the Spartans.

The hatch opened and there they were, a cluster of five Jackals with five Elites just behind them, all with weapons drawn. One rocketeer fired at the floor just in front of the group, while the other fired at the ceiling just behind the Elite's heads. All of them were engulfed in flames for a moment. When it cleared, only one Elite was moving, and he lay on the floor. Sean walked up to it and squatted beside it, and cradled the back of its head in one hand. It was snapping its sharp, shark-like jaws towards his face, but the Master Chief's hand kept it well at bay.

He almost admired the Elites. They never showed fear, like the Grunts and Jackals. But unfortunately, they were a threat, and Sean had been trained always to neutralize threats. With a quick jerk of his hand, the Elite's neck snapped. He settled its head back down to the deck with a bit of respect. Then he stood and barked over open COM, "Teams B through J report!" C team and J team had both entered their assigned Covenant ships.

Of the rest, all were on board the outpost except E, who were about to blow the hatch. Good, thought Sean, we are going to need all the help we can get on board here. He signaled to his squad, and they all began to creep through the corridor they found themselves in. They came upon a four-way intersection. Sean held up a fist to halt the soldiers, then raised two fingers and motioned a few people forward. Six Spartans with MA2B assault rifles ran cat-like and jumped across the intersecting corridor to the shorter hallway that ended in a large door, easily leaping the seven feet, rolling and spinning around to face the squad again.

As they were in the air, three green bolts of plasma had flown by, as well as no less than fifteen blue ones. Now roars were heard, and a battle group of Elites and Grunts ran into the squad's view. The six Spartans on the opposite side began full automatic fire on them, and then the rest of them joined in the fray. Sean leapt among the Covenant, blasting very carefully with his shotgun, conserving ammo whenever possible, cracking the butt across the chins of Elites with downed shields.

He never fired his weapon on Grunts, only butted them, and occasionally slit their methane tubes with his knife. When it seemed they were almost through mopping up the Covenant in the hall with them, more and more began to pour in from opposite ends of the hallway. John spared a glance at his shield indicator. It was three quarters down, and beginning to flash blue and red. Damn, he thought, we've gotta fight them back and find a place to recharge.

For now though, you'll improvise a shield. He grabbed an Elite that wasn't facing him, and turned it towards a mass of Jackals. He grabbed it in a half nelson and forced its other hand to pull the trigger of its plasma rifle. The approaching Covenant were reluctant to fire on their own and so their fire was less suppressive. Most other Spartans had gotten the idea and were all standing back to back with an Elite hostage.

Suddenly, Sean's Elite jerked free of his grip and elbowed him directly in his solar plexus. With a loud, "Whoof," Sean released the Elite and bent down. The Elite turned and was about to fire on Sean, but in his lowered position, he was directly in line with its grenade belt. He wrenched a plasma grenade from the Elite's belt and held down the button. He drew back his fist just as the plasma rifle was fired into his chest, completely burning away the last of his shield.

But by then it mattered little to Sean. He punched the Elite full force in the face and released the plasma grenade button. It stuck to the creature's face, nearly blinding it in the brightness. In one fluid motion, Sean lifted his leg, placed his foot squarely in its chest, and sent it flying back ten feet into a huge mass of Jackals and Grunts. In an almost comical display, a Grunt turned his back on his comrades and ran screaming, "We're all gonna die!"

Sean took some pride in knowing that the disgusting creatures had been taught English because it was easier to understand than their grunting language. He was pleased to find that the little Grunt's premonition had been correct. The Covenant had finally stopped coming from that side, so Sean turned to face the onslaught from the other direction. He fired time and again into the fray, and finally ran in to crack open the skull of a final Jackal. He signaled his team into the short hall with the doorway.

His two rocketeers stood at the opening of the small semi-enclosure, watching the opposite ends of the hall. The rest of them took the opportunity to rest against any open wall space they could find, and to allow their shields to recharge. "Sean, I'm listening in on the Covenant's internal communications," Tyger's voice. "They're going to send Hunters."

Damn, thought Sean, we're definitely not gonna get more rest for now. "Soldiers! Reload quickly. Hunters on the move," he yelled to his Spartans. Everyone straightened visibly. He called forward one of his rocketeers, and quickly whispered some orders to him. The cadet snapped a salute and reached into his ammo sack, the largest of any of the soldiers in the group. He procured a Lotus Anti-tank mine from within.

The destructive power in a single Lotus could easily take out a heavily armored Scorpion tank. So why was it Sean looked at it with a bit of fear, fear that it may not be enough? He took a deep breath as the cadet set the mine to a proximity explosion and ran back to the opposite end of the hall to place another. "Chief," said Tyger, surprisingly in a closed communication, "the Covenant are mentioning something else. I don't know what they have planned, but the word brute definitely came up seven times. Wait--I've got a huge spot on the motion sensors!"

Sean ordered everyone into a widely staggered formation, and they all stood facing one end of the hall or the other. Red spots were approaching the corners on either side. A slight vibration traveled through the deck towards the Spartans, and though it was only slight, it shook them all to their hearts. Almost everyone unclipped a grenade and primed it. "Sir." B team leader's voice. "We've spotted huge motion coming in your direction. Do you require assistance?"
"ASAP B team leader."

That calmed Sean's nerves a bit. Sixty Spartans in closed quarters could take on at least five Hunters if the need arose. Suddenly the motion sensor was picking up only one red dot, tiny at best. What the hell, thought Sean, there's no way a Hunter could produce such a small signature. He scanned the hall in front of him, and eventually, the grunting of a Jackal could be heard. A Jackal? This isn't right. Hunters are always alone, they charge in, shields up, fuel rod cannons blazing.

A Jackal then turned the corner, hanging from the ceiling by magnetic boots. It looked down at the Lotus and started to turn its head to yell back to something that was out of the Spartans' sight. Before it got two squawks off, Sean had unholstered his pistol, gone to 2x sight, and blown its leg in half. The creature howled in pain and fell to the deck, missing the Lotus by six centimeters.

But it wasn't enough to avoid the proximity charge. A deafening explosion resounded through the corridor, and suddenly the Jackal was on the ceiling again, across ten square feet of it. The roar of an out-of-sight Hunter mixed with something else, a noise Sean had never heard before. It was a deep rumbling, gurgling noise. That's when something new stepped around the corner.