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A Hard Landing
Posted By: CoLd BlooDed<sk8_4life7_@hotmail.com>
Date: 21 February 2004, 7:10 AM

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A Hard Landing (Side Story from The Strive to Survive)

      Pelican 118, codenamed "Delta 118", sped across the grass hills inside a valley, the sun rose over the hills every few minutes and was blocked out again from the valley walls. The Pilot, James Chas, tapped various controls on the displays and keys on the dash.
      "This is Delta 118, ready for touch-down to evacuate any wounded and unload troops," James said clearly over the COM network, "Does anybody read? Over."
      There was a distant crackling sound on the channel, but no answer, then a knock came from the cockpit's entrance door. Chas hit a switch and the door hissed open, a tall, blonde, man stood in the doorway shouldering a shotgun. A tag appeared over the man's head and labeled him as Sergeant Collin Peppers via the neural lace implanted in the Pilot's brain.
      "I need to know somethin', kid," said the Sarge brusquely, "How long is it 'til we get to the LZ? My boys are beckonin' for a fight."
      "We're just waiting for a signal, sir, and then we'll be able to land."
      The Sergeant nodded and walked out of the doorway back into the back of the ship where the seats were, the hatch shut without a sound.
      "Delta 1-8, do you ----, LZ is under fi--, permission to land den—d," the voice over the COM channel broke into static but not before saying, "We will con---t you ---e you're cl--r to land."
      "Acknowledged." the Pilot understood most of what the man had said, he had learned how to communicate with static problems a long time before.
      James looked at one of the seven displays that were positioned in the cockpit, this one was the fore view screen, and he saw the valley walls sloping down and disappearing into a grassy plain. The plain extended over rolling hills and rivers, and then broke off to form a rocky precipice. Halo 07 was a studying ground for scientists and ONI operatives alike, but it was there subject that was most important and interesting.
      Chas was only a Pilot, but he had been asked by an ONI executive to go to the ring in search for a successful way to fight the Flood; the studying subject of the scientists and operatives. James didn't take long to decide, and before he knew it, he had landed on the ring and helped people get from 'A' to 'B'.
      A text-written message appeared on one of the screens and the Pilot accepted it, the transmission read, "You're clear for entry, sorry about the delay and form of contact, the Covenant managed to take out our communication systems."
      James acknowledged and deleted the message and circled in over the ancient Forerunner structure, this one hadn't been greatly converted like the others, but still held the same amount of ONI and UNSC personnel. When the Pilot reached the makeshift landing zone—which was separated by a kilometer from the actual base—plasma washed over the displays.
      "What the fuck?!" yelled James in anger to himself and then said over the COM, "This is Delta 118, I thought you said the LZ was secure!"
      No response, instead just the sound of plasma melting into the metal hull of the Pelican.
      There was a soft explosion from the port side of the aircraft, one of the structure integrity scanners flashed red, and numbers began to scroll down the side. The scanner stated that the port thrusters had been disabled, but how so easily? Another explosion, but this time it lasted longer and shook the teeth the Pilot's head.
      "We're coming in hard!" yelled the Pilot in a tone of confusion, "Brace yourselves for impact!"
      The Pelican lost most of its velocity and altitude when both the thrusters were immobilized. James did all he could, but the dark green grass of the plain raced closer towards the screen and overwhelmed him, but his last move saved them all.
      He killed all the thrusters and cut out the engines so no noise emitted from the ship, but the Pelican immediately dropped and started ripping through terrain like it was a thin piece of plastic. Massive clods of dirt held their position directly on the view screens and the cockpit windows soon broke, sending glass to rain down on James and cut his skin.
      The Pelican slowed, then hit a large boulder and flipped over, the instruments in the cockpit exploded sending sparks all over Chas' body. The Pilot shouted in pain and gripped onto the seat and writhed under the seat's buckle.
      Then everything went a deadly silent.
      "What happened out there, Delta 118? Do you copy? Over!" A voice broke in through the COM. It was the same voice that contacted him through the channel in static.
      "This is Delta 118, we have taken a hard landing..." his voice drifted off as the voice asked, "Delta 118! Do you copy?"
      Nothing. The COM must be currently disabled.
      James braced for impact. He felt the wind get forced out of his lungs and groaned to comfort himself as the Pelican slammed into the dirt. Then he climbed out of the cockpit windows—the glass had been broken out of the frame completely—and he landed on the grass.
      The Pilot of the destroyed Delta 118 looked to where the LZ was and saw a large group of hazy figures, then looked farther to the right and saw the Forerunner structure with gunshots echoing from its stone walls.
      James ran to where the back of the Pelican and looked inside where the Marines were. Blood had been smeared over the walls and was trickling out of back, making a dark mud puddle on the soil.
      "What the fuck happened here?" came a voice from behind Chas who jumped in surprise, then turned to see the Sergeant standing with six other men.
      "We were hit," bluntly said the Pilot, "and we crashed, we're going to have to walk to the structure."
      "I don't think so, man, we aren't going to walk anywhere with the supplies we were carryin'," said one of the Marines, "They weigh a shit-load."
      "So what do you suggest?"
      "I suggest that we wait here until they come pick us up," said the Sergeant, "They aren't just going to leave us with the supplies we were carrying."
      James nodded and then asked, "What happened to the equipment?"
      "They are scratched up and dented, but otherwise, they're intact and still operational."
      "Good," he responded and looked over to where the LZ was again, and saw different colored plasma bolts streak across the sky, "But it looks like we're going to have company soon."
      The Sergeant laughed and said, "Those bastards don't deserve to live." But as he said this there was a distant howl, and then it turned into a humming sound, the first signs of a Covenant Phantom approaching.
      "Looks like we'll be having company sooner then we thought!" yelled the Sergeant as he grabbed an Assault Rifle that lay on the ground and slammed a fresh clip into the weapon, "Lock and load, boys!"
      The other Marines raised their weapons, a mix of AR's, Pistols and Shotguns. A distant voice crackled over the COM, "Delta 118, we have a visual of the crash site, inbound with support and transport vehicles."
      "We have reinforcements coming!" yelled James over the COM, without an acknowledgement he hid on the opposite side of the Pelican to where the Phantom was approaching.
      There was a whooshingsound as a Rocket Launcher projectile raced towards the Phantom and exploded on contact, there was a "Yeah! That's how you do it!" and then the Sergeant ran to where the Pilot was with a smoking RL.
      James managed a smile and glanced around the corner to see the Phantom touching down with a meter in diameter hole centered on the aft. All the Covies were released from the bay doors, at least twenty in total, a combination of the Brutes, Elites, and Jackals.
      There was a prompt explosion and James saw several Jackal's flying through the air with arms flailing. The Pilot came out from cover behind the Pelican and poured automatic fire on the approaching Covenant, yelling as he did so.
      A Brute wandered close to where the other group of Marines stood and took a heavy barrage of bullets in the chest; purple blood spewed everywhere as the Marines retreated from the body.
      Several Elites dashed behind the flipped over Pelican and into the line of James's and the Sarge's fire. The carcass of the first Elite fell to the ground with countless bullet holes, each one smoking slightly. The second Elite jumped to where the Sarge stood and raised one arm - the one that carried the Plasma Rifle.
      But before it could bring down the weapon on the Sarge's face bullets pinged off of the reflective shield and caused the alien to turn around and face the shooter.
      Shots were about to ring out from the creatures plasma weapon when the Sergeant hit it in the back with a rocket. There was a deafening explosion and James was thrown several meters along with the Sarge, little bits of flesh, blood and dirt rained down upon the two shocked men.
      The Pilot tried to regain his composure, but his legs felt like they were on fire from the inside, and he collapsed. The last few Elites were about to shoot at the injured Pilot when bullets appeared out of no where and disabled their shields. Purple-blue blood sprayed into the air as several more bullets caught the Covenant aliens in the helmets; the Warthogs from the Forerunner structure were firing the LAAG's.
      James sat up, and saw the Sergeant with a Brute standing over him, the Sarge was on his back and struggling to pull himself backwards from the towering alien.
      "Sarge!" yelled James, but it was too late, the Brute raised its massive armored claw and brought it down on the stomach of Peppers.
      The Sergeant coughed up a major amount of blood onto the side of Pelican and grass, and the Brute then shot into Collin's face repeatedly while roaring.
      Vomit worked its way up into James mouth, but he forced it back down, he would die if he took the time, the Brute was too close.
      James was about to throw a grenade at the massive alien when a little green squid-like thing climbed over the Pelican and jumped onto its face. The Brute immediately started clawing at its face; blood squirted out, staining the skin of the little creature, which James quickly recognized as the Flood Infection Form.
      "What the hell are those little things?!" screamed one of the Marines as more continued to pour out of what looked like a damaged vent shaft, but the shaft was just under the Pelican's hull in the grass.
      "They're Flood! We need to get out of here, fuck the supplies, man!" yelled another Marine in a Spanish accent, and the Marines started sprinting away from the crash site, the Warthogs that were approaching grew ever closer.
      James followed right behind the other Marines; blood dripping out of the corners of his mouth and eyes. In his blurred vision and with impaired hearing he heard the sound of a plasma rocket discharging, and his hearing never lied.
      A green blob of glowing plasma crashed into the nearest 'Hog and flipped it end over end, and it finally came to a halt when the wheels had been ripped and the engine exploded. Chas turned to see the other two Warthogs do a fish-tail maneuver and head back in the other direction.
      "Wait! Where the hell are they going?!" yelled a Marine over the COM who was far ahead of James.
      No one responded but instead turned to see a massive wave of the Flood Infection Forms heading towards them.
      "Stand your ground, Marines!" yelled someone over the COM and the soldiers started firing.
      The little parasitic forms exploded in a shower of flesh and started a sequence of loud pops. The Marines kept firing—took turns slapping in fresh clips—and stood their ground. That was until the Combat Forms crawled to the surface.
      A horrid odor filled the air as hundreds upon hundreds of Flood poured out from behind the flipped Pelican. A wave of rotten flesh moved over the grass towards the doomed Marines, but they still tried to hold their ground with weapons fire.
      Bullet shells now littered the area where the soldiers were scattered—but they were soon to run out of ammunition. Each Marine only held on to fifteen or sixteen clips, and each soldier had already exhausted ten of them.
      "Fuck, man! They're getting closer!" screamed one of the Marines who was closest to the oncoming wave of monsters.
      "Retreat, soldiers, move, MOVE!" yelled one of the Marines as he started to back away from the approaching mass of Flood.
      Jake fired his weapon until the clip was depleted—when he couldn't find a fresh clip he threw it at the horde of mutated aliens. He turned around while he was backpedaling and realized they would have to run across the field to get to the structure.
      "Why did they have to ditch us?! When I get my hands on them!" the Spanish Marine complained over the COM, but his voice died out and was replaced with static.
      James looked behind him and saw that one of the Marines—most likely the one that had been talking on the COM—had been hit down by one of the Combat Forms and killed.
      "Joseph!" yelled one of the soldiers in dismay, an FOF tag scrolled over his head as Corporal Karl Jones, "We grew up together, man!"
      James took his turn to speak into the microphone that came down from his helmet and came in front of his mouth. "Keep going! Don't let his death slow you down!"
      Sobs came over the COM from the Corporal, and this made James fatigued, they wouldn't make it to the structure.
      The Corporal came into view and ran past the Pilot as he slowed down and stopped. Jones gave him a panicked look and sprinted past him—James turned around to face the oncoming Flood.
      If he made a good enough distraction then maybe the Marines could make it to the structure, there was no way he would make it in his weakened state.
      "Come and get me, you monsters!" James bellowed and stretched his arms to either side, "Come on!"
      They continued to bounce and bobble and snarl as they came closer to the doomed Pilot that stood his ground. None of them bore weapons—but the tentacles on their arms were razor sharp and intimidating.
      "What are you doing? We still have a chance to make it!" yelled a Marine over the COM, James clicked it off; he would not be hearing anymore communiqués from the soldiers.
      "Come on, you miserable fucks!" the Pilot yelled at the top of his voice to the wave of green monsters, no response from the forms.
      The first row of Flood surrounded him and he tried to hit them with all his power summed up, but it was no use, so he primed a grenade and chucked it over his head before taking a blow to the back.
      James staggered and fell to the ground; hundreds of the Combat Forms surrounded him and beat on him mercifully, but he didn't give in to the pain or death. As the tentacles continued to tear at his flesh he felt for his belt—the round touch of a frag grenade came into his grip.
      He managed to prime it before his vision blurred and roll it into a group of the Combat Forms that were outside of the circle of Flood. It exploded in a bright yellow flash—dirt, blood, bone, and smoldering flesh rained down upon James and the creatures.
      The Pilot grabbed for his last grenade and rolled over to his stomach as soon as he pulled the pin. He smiled at one of the creatures and held his arm up, ignoring the savage thrashings from the abominations.
      "Take this, you ugly son of a bitches." he whispered, and closed his eyes after saying so.
      Then he flicked off the clip and after a total of three seconds elapsed, a brilliant white light enveloped him with a flash of extreme pain. He welcomed it, but it soon died off and he felt or saw no more.