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Taker of Life, Giver of Death - Part V: Rude Awakening
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 27 July 2002, 11:23 pm


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    David Brothers marched into his private quarters, which as a squad leader, he certainly deserved. His black helmet gleamed with the white fluorescent light from the bare lightbulb dangling above his head. With a heavy sigh, he slumped onto his bed and removed his helmet seals. Air hissed as the pressure equalized. Placing his helmet on the bed next to him, David ran his fingers through his coarse brown hair. It was cropped very short, standard military haircut. His face was stern and solemn, much like his father's who was an ex-UNSC Captain. But David's face almost had a tender and loving look on it as well. He got that from his mother.
    There was no doubt about it. He loved his squad mates, and he loved the gratifying feeling of protecting humanity. In his mind, there was no question. If necessary, he would die for any of his teammates; his friends.
     He was exhausted. Not physically, but mentally. His body could take any sort of punishment the UNSC could dish out. But he had spent all morning screaming orders and trying to devise a battle plan for tomorrow's exercise. In what would be an exercise where the bullets would be stun rounds, his squad of Patriots were assigned to take an 'enemy' stronghold which was defended by several dozen UNSC marines.
    David thought of his history lessons when he had first been inducted into the Patriots. He had learned that many years ago, with the Spartans, there had only been a handful of them. Now, the Patriots made up almost half of the billion UNSC marines. The brass had high hopes that one day, the entire UNSC would be constructed of enhanced cybernetic soldiers.
    Drooping his head into a locked stare of the cold, bare floor, David let out an exasperated growl. Tomorrow would be rough. The enemy bunker had been set up for weeks, and the marine's only orders were to defend it from enemy forces. The poor guys had no idea when the attack would come. For weeks, David's second in command, Mark had been doing some reconnaissance work. He also happened to be the best sniper out of David's three Patriot squad. David preferred an assault rifle. Daniel was a fanatic devotee to the stopping power of the UNSC's 8- gauge shotgun, the M90. And lastly was David's personal favorite: Jack, the demolitions expert. The man was a master of handheld explosives. If need be, the man could place a grenade perfectly on a two foot by 2 foot ledge one hundred yards away. He also had a crack sense of humor which even David had to admire.
    David managed a smile through his layers of frustration. He had to concede, his team was the most well rounded bunch he had ever served with. But tomorrow would be no cake walk. There was a portion to the exercise that David hadn't told his squad. They were supposed to capture the enemy's 'general' and bring him in for questioning. The only problem was David had no idea who it was. They would have to be careful who they shot at. The squad leader keyed his COM.
    'Sergeant. Send in my squad.'
    'Yes, sir!'
    Several moments later, three more Patriots, clad in shimmering black armor, strode in. The three Patriots snapped a quick salute and David returned it before he spoke.
    'Take a seat men.'
    The three Patriots sat down in unison. Their squad leader spoke.
    'Alright, tomorrow we make our run on the enemy stronghold. Our mission is to neutralize all hostile forces, and take their leader prisoner. As our recon tells us, there are approximately fifty marines stationed there. Mark will begin here.' David pointed to a map hung on his wall. 'From the eastern side of the base you will have a clear shot at all their stun grenade weapons emplacements: artillery, mortars, etc. Your first priority is to take those out, then wreak whatever other havoc you can.
    'The rest of us will head in from the west. Jack, you're going to have your own little arsenal of stun grenades. Use them. Daniel and I will mop up. When we reach the structure, and all outdoor forces have been neutralized, Mark will rendevous with us, and we will head inside. We have no recon of the interior. It will be a ╬play it as we go' deal. Once we get to our objective, we will head to the extraction point west of the base, here.' Again, David pointed to a spot on the map, which had been taken from a satellite. The extraction point was a large clearing marked by a large X.
    'Alright, any questions?'
    In unision: 'No, sir!'
    'Good, get some rest, we head out at 0500.'

***************

    David's alarm went off at 0430 the next morning. He was out of bed with nothing more than a growl and a yawn. The other three members of his team would already be up. They had most likely been up since 0200, fawning over their equipment, trying to decide how much firepower to pack.
    Mark was probably sitting alone cleaning and singing to his matte-black sniper rifle, like he always did before a mission. Daniel was probably trying to decide whether to carry one or two weapons, and Jack was without a doubt, already fitting a stun grenade launcher to the bottom of his MA5B. The demolitions expert probably had a full wardrobe of stun explosives on him anyway.
    David picked up his dark black helmet and placed it over his head. Air hissed as the helmet locked itself into place, sealing David off from the outside world. Marching outside, he found his teammates waiting for him next to a refitted Warthog. Missing was the turret, and in its place were two extra seats. David hopped into the passenger seat, and Jack assumed the role of the driver. Daniel and Mark leaped into the rear seats from twenty feet away, and the jeep roared off into the blackness of the early morning.
    David silently wished that Mark had driven. While Jack was an excellent soldier, his concern for his passengers' well-being when driving a vehicle over rough terrain resembled that of a small child's.
    After thirty minutes of driving, David ordered the jeep to a halt.
    'Alright, we're two clicks from the base, it's just over that rise.' David pointed to a large hill directly in front of them. 'Mark, you'll take up postion here, and attempt to take out as many of the enemy as possible before we move in.'
    Mark nodded, hopped from the Warthog ad sprinted up the hill to its summit.
    After another command, the jeep sped off toward another destination where the Patriots would wait for the all clear from Mark. The three Patriots waited for almost an hour, and no shots had been fired.
    'Daniel, go check on Mark, triple time.'
    'Yes, sir!' The Patriot sprinted off through the brush. For several more minutes, David and Jack waited silently. Finally, a russling of branches caught the Patriot's attention. Through the brush came Daniel, his armor battered, and wounds in his legs gushing blood. In his arms, the corpse of Mark. David and Jack ran forward to help Daniel, just as he collapsed to the ground. The two remaining Patriots checked for pulses. Nothing.
    'Sir, who could've done this?'
    'Rebels, who knows?'
    'But sir, these look like plasma burns. We don't have plasma weapons.'
    'The Covenant? That's impossible.'
    'Yes, sir, but it's the only half-logical explana-'
    An incredibly loud hiss filled the air, and the atmosphere crackled and popped. Looking skyward, the two Patriots witnessed a huge tendril of plasma streak toward the intended bunker and slam into it. The immense concrete walls, Titanium A blast doors, and personnel, all were melted down instaneously, leaving only a smooth, glassy surface.
    Both Patriots slowly glanced toward each other, and sprinted back to the Warthog. David was driving, and Jack grabbed the radio. The squad leader immediately put the jeep in gear, and sped off through the open terrain back towards the Patriots base. Jack tried to get FLEETCOM on the radio.
    'Warning, this is Patriot Group Blue 01, we have fallen under attack by Covenant forces. Two members have been killed during our routine exercise HNT- zero-niner-five. Intended target was attacked by Covenant orbital bombardment. Recommend deployment of all Marine and Patriot units immediately.'
    'This is FLEETCOM, we read you Group Blue 01, report back to base immediately and report for briefing.'
    'Roger.' Jack turned to David. 'Sir, how would they get close enough to attack? Wouldn't some sort of sensors pick them up?'
    'Maybe not. It's been three hundred years since we last saw the Covenant. They've always been stronger, smarter and faster... who knows what they've got now? At least now, we'll stand a fighting chance in space.'
Jack simply nodded, and hung his head, staring into his lap.





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