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A pilot's life: Chapter Three-Swamp King
Posted By: Captain Rasc<Rasculia38@cox.net>
Date: 21 October 2003, 12:35 AM

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"This is why I transferred out of the Marines," I thought to myself as I waded through the thick black mud of the swamp, the four Marines trailing close behind. It had been two days since we left the valley and so far, we had found no survivors. The only thing we had found was a massive swamp and the occasional Covenant patrol. We were all starting to doubt that we would find any survivors.
"Hold it lads," said Corporal O'Brein, "I think I have something...yes, there is a beacon signal about 2 miles north of us. It's real faint, and fades in and out, but I think it is one of ours."
"Whadda' you think Lieutenant, should we check it out?" asked Sgt. Evans.
"Might as well," I said, "It's not like we got anything better to do at the moment."
"Good point," he said grinning.
Having decided to investigate the signal, we turned north. We trudged on, making good time despite the thick mud. We stopped every so often to check our position, and reached our objective in about 1 and a half hours. Signaling the other Marines to halt, Evans and I crawled within 10 yards of the clearing from which the signal originated. We heard low voices speaking in the clearing, but couldn't see anything. Easing up I took a quick look and my heart sank at what I saw.
Standing in the clearing was a group of Covenant. There were a lot of them, about 15 grunts, along with three Jackals and two Elites. I informed Evans of the situation and he grinned saying, "Hell, that's nothing, I could take them all with one arm tied down. Take my gun I won't need it."
I shot him a dirty look and said quietly, "Sure, you do that while we go around them, I'll be sure to come to the funeral."
"Why would you want to go to a Covenant funeral?" he asked quizzically. I just shook my head.
"Come on," I said. We crawled stealthily back to the three other Marines and informed them of the situation. They all laughed when Evans continued to insist he could take them all on unarmed.
"Quiet you," I growled menacingly, "We have work to do, so lets get to it. Walker, you'll give me your sniper rifle and take my assault rifle. Then you go with Evans, loop around north of them, and get set up to fire. O'Brein, you and Louis will come with me and set up to fire from the south. I am going to take out the Elites with the rifle. As soon as they both go down, open fire. Try to get the Jackals first, and worry about the Grunts last. Understood?"
"Yes sir," said the four men. Walker and I swapped weapons then he and Evans moved northeast around the clearing. I led O'Brein and Louis to the position where I had earlier surveyed the clearing with Evans. I told O'Brein to set up at that spot, and put Louis about 30 yards to the right of him. I then walked over to a spot in between the two. I kneeled down and activated the scope on the rifle. Taking careful aim, I centered the crosshairs over the first Elite's chest. Holding the weapon steady, I slowly tightened my grip on the trigger.
The Sa-52 rifle is a large, somewhat bulky weapon. It has a low ammo capacity and a slow rate of fire. It is also very loud. However, it makes up by being very accurate and powerful. It has the ability to punch thru an Elite's body shielding and armor with a single shot, making it a potent weapon. My shot, well placed, slammed straight thru the Elite, armor and all, and hit a Grunt standing behind him. Both dropped to the ground, a look of surprise frozen on their faces. The second Elite turned towards his dead comrade in surprise. He opened his mouth to shout, and the back of his head exploded in a spray of gore as my second shot went into his open mouth. He dropped without making so much as a gurgle. Before he had hit the ground, the four Marines opened up from their positions around the clearing. One Jackal went down as a burst of fire almost cut it in half. The second Jackal was blown apart by a frag grenade, which exploded directly behind him. The blast also took out four grunts. The third Jackal's chest exploded in a spray of blood as I shot him in the back from five yards away. The remaining Grunts, frightened and confused, were cut down as they stood paralyzed in fear.
"Move in," I called to O'Brein and Louis. We moved forward, guns at the ready. We emerged into the blood-soaked clearing at the same time as Evans and Walker appeared from the other side.
"Well, that was fun," said Walker, "can I have my rifle back sir?"
"Here you go private," I said, handing him the rifle.
"Look," said Evans pointing to the far side of the clearing. I turned to look. A Pelican drop ship lay on its side. Its Cockpit was shattered and there was plasma scoring along the top. Its port wing was missing and there were weapons lying around it. I walked over and looked in the cockpit. The emergency beacon light was flashing on and off. Shit.

* * * * * * * *

"Now what," I thought, "Once again we've showed up too late." I shook my head and climbed off the Pelican. Turning to O'Brein I asked, "You getting anything new?"
"Give me a moment boss," he replied. He put his headphones on and fiddled with some dials. His eyes were closed tight in concentration. After a few minutes he removed the headphones and said, "Well, there's a ton of radio activity far to the east. I can't be sure who it is, but it definitely is not a distress beacon. If you want my guess that is where the Covenant are coming from, but still..." He shrugged, "it could be some of our guys are in trouble."
"Aww, don't listen to him Lieutenant," said Walker, who was throwing rocks across the clearing, "He ain't heard nothing, we'll just end up on a wild goose chase again."
"You listen to me mate-"
"That's enough!!!" I barked "We have enough problems already without us arguing. We are here to look for any survivors and to aid them as best we can. Therefore, we will be investigating those signals!! Understood Marines!?!"
"Sir yes sir!!!" The two men shouted.
"Let's move out then, we got a long ways to go!"
Walker threw the rock he had been holding and stooped to pick up his rifle. The rock sailed across the clearing, bounced twice, and sailed between two trees and disappeared from sight. CLANG!!!!!!!!!!
All five of us whirled around towards the sound. Rifles ready we moved carefully towards the gap thru which the rock had flown. Easing cautiously thru the trees, I saw something that made my jaw drop. Sitting there, just 10 yards away from where I had hid when we attacked the clearing, was a Scorpion Battle Tank. It was so well camouflaged that we had missed it completely, mistaking it for a large clump of shrubbery. Giving a shout of pure joy, I clambered up onto the monstrous steel behemoth. Locating the hatch over the driver's compartment, I yanked it open and, upon finding it empty, climbed inside. I fiddled around, and tried to start the engine. With a throaty roar, the engine came to life!! I took a moment to familiarize myself with the controls. I then turned on the external intercom and said, "All right guys lets saddle up!"
The four Marines clambered eagerly aboard the four tread pods, and we set off east towards whatever was the source of those radio signals.

We were about a mile away from the radio signals source when I picked something up on the radar. A pair of fast moving Ghosts was headed our way. "Great," I thought, "If they get much closer we will have to take them out."
"Alright," I said into the intercom, "Heads up ladies we have a pair of Ghosts approaching fast. We need to keep them from warning their buddies that we are here, so be ready to take them or their drivers out."
No sooner did I finish speaking than the two craft burst into sight. I traversed the turret and tracked the lead scout. I pressed the firing stud. The tank shook as it fired its big 105mm cannon. The shot hit directly under the speeding hovercraft. The explosion engulfed the tiny purple craft and incinerated the pilot. The hover drives short-circuited and the now powerless craft thudded nose first into the mud. While the cannon reloaded the Marines opened fire from their perches on the tread pods. The pilot of the Ghost managed to bring the tail of his craft out of their line of fire. However, his armored front offered no protection from the 12.7mm x 99 tri-barrel gun mounted next to the main cannon on the tank. The ripping burst tore open the front of the craft and detonated the fuel cells inside. The following explosion of plasma completely vaporized the Ghost and its pilot.
"That'll teach the bastards," said someone over the comm, probably Evans. Before I could comment on that however, a new voice broke thru the comm waves.
"This is fire team Charlie requesting assistance, repeat this is fire team Charlie requesting assistance from any human forces in the area does anyone copy?"
"Fire team Charlie, this is Second Squad, we're on our way," I said into the radio.
"Roger," replied the speaker, "We'll hold 'em off as long as we can, but you better hurry!" I hooked the radio back to its mount and gunned the tank back into gear, roaring towards the beleaguered Marines 6 miles away.