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Shadow Ops II: Chapter Three
Posted By: Agent Shade<cthompson013@hotmail.com>
Date: 14 December 2003, 4:47 AM

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Chapter Three

Morning came quickly, since the battle for Gamma Colony went long through the night. The clouds parted in the sky and the sun rose, bringing a sense of warmth and relief into the war-torn valley. Sergeant Colin "Shade" Thompson stood on colony wall catwalk, smoking a cigarette and staring at the devastation before him. His sniper rifle lay against the wall beside him, still hot and smoking from the tip. The Covenant had only retreated five minutes ago and he had taken the liberty of picking off a few stragglers as the storm ended. The night had been tough on them. Even he felt weary and exhausted, even though he had been safe from all danger, standing on the wall and firing pot shots at the enemy, which he could barely see. Colin breathed in the fumes from the nicotine stick and blew small circles of smoke out into the morning air. The grass that wasn't stained with blood or chewed up from explosions sparkled at him as the rainwater glistened in the sunlight. Colin had always found peace in the morning, especially after a battle. It was quiet and he was given a moment to reflect on what had just happened.

The battle was indeed a terrible one. Just by looking down below at the trenches, he could see the devastation and destruction that had encumbered the marines during the fight. It was the first trench that looked terrible. Huge craters left by the plasma mortars were the first things that caught Colin's eye, along with the two Warthogs that were flipped up and lodged within the trench. He could see the dead being piled up along the ground, and the wounded being carried inside the colony. Tired and exhausted marines dragged themselves into the colony, either heading to the barracks or the medical tents set up. Colin sympathized for them. They had fought a long, gruesome battle. Colin however hadn't, which made him so upset with himself. While they were down in those dugouts, risking their lives for this colony, the Shadow Ops sniper was standing on this wall, trying to shoot at the Covenant soldiers marching forward. The marines were covered in mud and blood. Colin still wore the clean uniform he had arrived in. Anger rose in him again. He looked at the cigarette in his hand and crushed it. Growling, he then swung his arm back and tossed the remains away. He had desperately wanted to be down there, since he felt that his sense of battle was back in him. He had forgotten about Vegas VI. He wanted to fight, and yet, he was a sniper. Even when he was with Shadow Ops I, he was rarely with his teammates in the battle. He was always ordered to hang back and try and pick off the enemy. Helpful though it was, he was starting to hate it.

As Colin stood there in self-pity, he looked up and watched Lieutenant Owens and three other Shadow Ops members climb out of the trench and walk towards the colony. Sergeant Thompson slung his sniper rifle over his back and ran down the catwalk ladder. As the four Shadow Ops members walked into the colony, Colin greeted them. He saluted to Owens, who returned it. He seemed to be okay. Although he was covered in the blood of the enemy and humans, he still grinned brightly at Colin. The other three were a different story.

Corporal McConnell, Kreutz Kamp and Dela Cruz all looked like they were undead zombies. Their faces were white as snow, and had huge bags under their eyes. McConnell's hands were shaking and he was supporting himself on George's shoulder. The German seemed to be okay, but the gash in his arm and cuts across his face indicated he was hurt. Aaron Dela Cruz was completely covered in mud. The sludge had dried and chiseled his face into the psychotic look he always had about him. Colin was sure however that his facial expression wasn't psychotic underneath it all. Colin noticed that one man was missing.

"Where's Spirit?" he asked, looking around for the medic. Lieutenant Owens looked over Colin's shoulder and pointed behind him. Colin turned and turned to look at a medical tent. Through the flapping canvas that was acting as a door, he could make out the Shadow Ops medic helping with the wounded.

"Well, our first real battle, a success. How do you guys feel?" Lieutenant Owens suddenly asked, referring to the three Shadow Ops Corporals. McConnell looked at Fredrick with wide open eyes.

"I don't know how I feel mentally sir. I can't feel my body. I've never fired a chain gun for that long" he said, rolling his eyes. Owens chuckled at this.

"Would it surprise you if I said I've been in longer battles than that?" he asked the Corporal.

"No sir" Jason said, shaking his head. Kreutz Kamp dropped the weapons he was holding.

"If you vill excuse me sir. I believe my arm requires attention" he said to Fredrick, motioning to the gash in his right arm.

"Of course Feuer, go right ahead" Owens said. The German saluted, then walked off and joined the line of wounded marines, waiting to be treated. Colin looked at Dela Cruz, who still stared straight ahead, not moving.

"What happened Scout?" he asked the Hispanic man. Aaron snapped out of his trance and turned to look at the Sergeant.

"Plastic floor broke under me after a plasma grenade went off near us. Almost sank in the mud, but a marine medic pulled me out. I tell you amigo, war isn't fun" he said, mud breaking off from his face as he spoke. Colin laughed.

"Been through one battle and you already hate it?" he asked him.

"I enjoyed every minute of shooting one of those bastardos, but watching marines dying and all the blood. That wasn't fun" he said, his voice trailing off slightly. Colin nodded and patted him on the shoulder.

"Get used to it" he said. The silence that burdened down upon them was broken by Colonel Fitzgerald, who marched over to them.

"Lieutenant Owens" he called, approaching them from the medical tents. The four Shadow Ops members saluted the Colonel, who returned it.

"You're missing two members" the Colonel noticed.

"Corporal Bishop is a medic sir. He's helping out inside the tents. My demolitions expert, Corporal Kreutz Kamp was injured in battle" Owens explained.

"Glad to see you are all alive" Fitzgerald said, nodding at them.

"Wasn't easy sir. That was a tough battle. We are all just getting back into the groove of things. But we won" Owens said, shaking his head slightly. The Colonel grinned and nodded.

"Yes, we did win indeed. Just got off the horn with the Blade of Wrath. According to their scans, the Covenant are pulling their forces away from here. There sending some supplies down here, then they expect that you guys head back up" he explained. Owens raised an eyebrow.

"Any idea where we are heading off too?" he asked.

"No idea I'm afraid. Admiral Baker will be briefing you when you get up there" Fitzgerald said. The Colonel stepped closer slightly. "I just wanted to say quickly, thank you for coming down here and helping. Corny as this sounds, I could feel a huge morale boost with the win. Not only with your presence, but now that we've won, everybody is happy, despite the losses. You guys are a helluva good group of men, wish you could stay here" he said. Colin couldn't help but smile at this. Whatever self-pity was in him was now gone. Colonel Fitzgerald held his hand out and shook it with the four Shadow Ops members with him.

"Thanks again gentlemen. Pelican should be here soon. Go kick some ass" he said, backing away and jogging back to the tents. As he left, Colin turned to Lieutenant Owens, who was grinning at not only him, but Corporal McConnell and Dela Cruz also.

"I hope you boys feel better now, 'cause I sure as hell do" he merely said, before walking back outside of the colony. Colin looked at the two Corporals and could tell that they were indeed happy. Although Corporal McConnell never showed much happiness, he had a slightly smirk on his face, and his pace was much more lively as he walked after the Lieutenant. The mud was falling off Aaron's face as he smiled widely. Colin followed them outside into the sun, which was high in the sky now. The7 gathered near one of the sandbag bunkers used to house the chain guns. As they stood there waiting, they were soon joined by Corporal Kreutz Kamp, who despite the bandage that covered his arm, was grinning broadly. Corporal Bishop, his hands and most of his face covered in blood arrived after him, also grinning. His white teeth were extremely noticeable on his blood and mud caked face. They gathered around Lieutenant Owens, who nodded at them all.

"Good first victory I'd say. If we can boost morale here, let's boost the morale of the entire battle group" he said quickly. Before anyone could answer, two Pelican dropships appeared on the horizon. They zoomed in quickly, circling the colony twice, then settled down just off to the right off the two trenches. The supply crates attached to their tails were detached by a large squad of marines that filed out of the troop bay. As the crates were pulled away and one of the Pelicans took off, a crew chief from the second Pelican approached them.

"You the Shadow Ops?" he yelled over the roar of the engines.

"Sure are" Owens answered. The Chief saluted them, and then motioned the six men inside the Pelican. Colin was the last to climb in, following the Chief who sat near the back. The sniper seated himself closest to the troop bay ramp, which slowly closed. As the Pelican began to lift off the ground, Colin stared out a small window, watching the colony disappear. Although they had won and the Colonel was extremely pleased with them, Colin made a vow to be side by side with his comrades in arms from now on, instead if sitting in the back, clean and unscathed.

The Pelican docked with the Blade of Wrath and as the Shadow Ops team disembarked from the dropship, they were greeted by Admiral Baker and two marine escorts. A sense of order and superiority surrounded him as he returned the salute Lieutenant Owens gave him. The Admiral stared at them, looking at the mud and blood that still covered their uniforms.

"Quite a battle I heard. Congratulations gentlemen on a job well done. First mission is a success, but the Covenant still aren't out of this system yet. Go and wash up in the barracks, then meet me in the briefing room for your next assignment" he said. The Admiral nodded at them, then turned on his heel and marched out of the docking bay. Luckily for them, the docking bay, barracks and briefing room were all on the same level. The Shadow Ops each took two minute long showers, and then dressed themselves in flight jumpsuits. The transition from the docking bay to the barracks, then from the barracks to the briefing room took less than ten minutes. They marched through the doors leading into the briefing room, which had two individuals sitting at the table inside the room. Admiral Baker stood and saluted to them as the Shadow Ops team walked in.

"Gentlemen, this is Captain Brian Hayes. He is the skipper of the Blade of Wrath and is here to help with the briefing of your next mission" Admiral Baker said first, motioning to the man sitting next to him. Captain Hayes nodded at them all, before leaning forward and putting his hands on the table.

"It's an honor to finally meet you all. The field reports from the battle are still coming in, but from what I've heard, you've not only helped with the victory, but you've given an overall morale boost. I must say, I am impressed. As much as I wish I could go on bragging about you guys, there is still a problem at hand" Hayes said.

"When you first came, I mentioned to you all about the four colonies down there on Vivec; Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Omega. As you know, Beta Colony was destroyed. At the moment, our scans indicate that the Covenant have landed additional troops on the planet and are redirecting them to Alpha colony. We've sent down the 126th Armored Calvary division, 132nd and 133rd Helljumper divisions. We are currently also sending down the 167th Scorpion tank division. The Captain and I feel that those forces should be enough to hold off the coming attack at Alpha" Admiral Baker explained.

"We need the Shadow Ops at Omega Colony. The fact that we have no idea what the status of that colony worries me, but it also worries me about the two Pelican dropships we sent in to that area have gone missing" Captain Hayes said. The holo-projector in the middle of the table came alight and showed various views of Omega Colony. Colin recognized how it was structured exactly like Gamma Colony. The interior of the city was protected by a large wall. Small huts and houses could be seen, along with rows and rows of farmhouses.

"This is a farm colony and probably a very important installation. The colony provides a large amount of the food that is eaten here on Vivec. Because of this, we need to find out what's up with it" Captain Hayes said again.

"You'll be sent in via Pelican dropship, five miles away from the main entrance. We'd like to send you in closer, but we've already lost two Pelicans and we can't risk another. Search out the colony, determine whether it's still intact or destroyed, then report back to us. Depending on its final status, we'll either be sending down troops to secure the colony or a Pelican to come pick you up. If you can, search for our two missing Pelicans as well" Admiral Baker finished. There was a moment of silence, before Captain Hayes shrugged his shoulders.

"Questions?" he asked.

"Will we be given data about the surrounding terrain and the colony itself" Corporal Dela Cruz asked. Captain Hayes grabbed a small data pad on the table.

"We've given you as much as our computers and AIs know. There's a map in there as well, shows where you are being dropped off and where the colony is" he said, handing it to Lieutenant Owens, who immediately passed it to Scout.

"The Pelicans just disappeared? No radio contact or anything?" Colin asked. Admiral Baker nodded.

"The first one we sent in disappeared without a word. The AI had been tracking the ship, and then notified Captain Hayes it was gone. We then sent the second Pelican in. The last report we received from it was that they were approaching a blanket of fog, and then we never heard from them again" he said.

"Could it be possible that the fog is simply interfering with radio communications?" Jason McConnell asked.

"They were supposed to fly over Omega Colony twice, take some scans, and get some pictures and then head back to the Blade of Wrath. They've been gone twelve hours now" Captain Hayes said. McConnell nodded at this and fell silent.

"Anything else?" Admiral Baker asked. No one spoke. Both the Admiral and the Captain stood, the Shadow Ops following suite.

"This shouldn't be a tough assignment, just a simple scouting mission. You'll be out of there in no time and back fighting the Covenant. Your Pelican leaves in half an hour. I guess you can head on back to the barracks and get ready" the Admiral said, finishing the brief. Salutes were exchanged, and then the Shadow Ops members walked out of the room. They marched into the barracks, and grabbed their now clean jungle camouflage combat armor. Colin fastened his torso plate on, and then attached his knee/elbow pads, and thigh/shin/arm guards. He had already taken his flight jumpsuit off and had put on a completely black jumpsuit. The combination of the black and camouflage would hopefully blend him in more perfectly. Colin marched into the small armory inside the barracks. He grabbed another MA5B assault rifle with ten extra clips of ammunition. He also picked up an Office of Naval Intelligence Shadow Rifle. The weapon was similar to the S2 AM sniper rifle that Colin usually used, but it was colored black and had a much thicker frame. The inside of the barrel of the gun was also smaller, allowing the bullet to spin faster and move at a faster rate. It fired 15.2mm rifle slugs, which came in small containers of twenty-four. The rifle also fired eight shots instead of four, which Colin liked a lot. He loaded and cocked both of his weapons. He then grabbed his equipment pack, where he stored some extra ammunition, food, medical kit, radio, and other survival equipment. He swung the bag over his shoulders, and then slung his Shadow rifle. The assault rifle he held with both of his hands, since there was no room for it to be swung across his back. Colin grabbed a black baseball hat, which had a dark grey star on the front. He then walked out of the armory station and waited for the rest of his squad.

Lieutenant Owens walked out first, looking exactly like Colin, but sporting a MA7B Battle rifle and a MA5B Assault rifle. He also was wearing a regular combat helmet, with the green eye reticule over his right eye. Corporal McConnell came out next, holding a single SMG 900. Slung over his back was a MA5B assault rifle. He wore a black bandanna, with his black baseball cap worn over it and backwards. He took out a small can of chewing tobacco, which he stuffed into his mouth. Corporal Kreutz Kamp held his regular weapons; the assault rifle and Jackhammer rocket launcher. He didn't wear any type of head gear at all, showing off his spiked blond hair. However, a combat helmet was hanging from his bag. Corporal Bishop was only holding onto an assault rifle as he walked out. The helmet he wore had the familiar Red Cross symbol along the sides. Corporal Dela Cruz was the last to gather with them. He held onto a MA5B assault rifle and a MA7B Battle rifle, just like the Lieutenant. He only wore a bandanna over his head. Lieutenant Owens nodded at them all.

"Okay, let's go kick some ass" he said, walking out of the barracks. Their Pelican was waiting for them inside the docking bay as the Shadow Ops walked inside. Several marines working with supply crates saluted at them as they walked by. Colin did them the courtesy of returning it. They all clambered into the troop bay and waited as the dropship detached itself from its moorings and zoomed out of the docking bay, rocketing towards the planets surface below. The ship began to shake violently and Colin could feel the height rise as they blasted through the atmosphere. The heat shield on the front of the Pelican held and they eventually punctured the O-Zone layer and flew through the clouds of Vivec. It didn't take very long for the Pelican pilot to locate their landing zone. It was a large clearing, much like an open valley in the middle of the jungle. They landed and the troop bay ramp fell open. Corporal Dela Cruz jumped out first, crouching in the high grass and waited as the rest of the group jumped out, forming a small semi-circle, their weapons shouldered. The Pelican took off quickly and disappeared into the sky, the roar of its engines disappearing and being replaced by absolute silence. Colin looked back at Fredrick, and nodded. The Lieutenant returned the nod and relaxed slightly.

"We'll move in a linear pattern, like always. Scout and I will take point. Shade and Spirit will bring up the rear. Let's move quickly and get this over with" Owens said quickly to them. He stood up and began running into the forest, Aaron right behind him. Colin waited for Kreutz Kamp and McConnell to run by, before chasing after them, Corporal Bishop on his heels. Colin could was tense was also excited. Memories flooded back from Vegas VI, since they were in a similar planet as the jungle world. He was able to push all that out of his mind. This was a mission where he could redeem himself and no longer be haunted by the dreams of his dead comrades.

As the Shadow Ops team rushed through the jungle, the bushes and trees behind them shook violently. Unknown to the elite humans, a figure shrouded in invisibility was chasing them. It had not only saw the Pelican dropship but heard it land in its forest and planned on making it's occupants that were unloaded pay for their trespassing.

By: Agent Shade