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The Greatest Allies Are Darkness, Stealth And Speed
Posted By: Conrad Lauf<coffeecare@ozemail.com.au>
Date: 3 May 2004, 8:59 AM

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GUNNERY Sergeant Joseph Casey held down on the firing stud, and let out a whoop of excitement as another Banshee hit the earth, its hull already a smouldering wreckage. He swung the turret around, and focused his fire onto the cockpit window of a swarming Covenant dropship. His twin-linked Vulcan miniguns whirred, spitting millions of tracers at its target. Casey shifted his fire onto an elite sitting in the cargo bay that was firing its plasma rifle at him in an extended burst. The elite was thrown back against its seat as hundreds of bullets hit his body, their armour-piercing tips cutting through the elite's armour like it was paper Plasma fire crackled and burned as it hit Casey's armour, and he gritted his teeth against the pain. But then his AP, or Attack Pelican, swung away and the already doomed Dropship disappeared from Casey's aiming zone in a cloud of bluish grey engine smoke.
He and three other AP's were trying to infiltrate a Covenant bunker, whose occupants had hijacked a cruiseship and taken its Commander, Benjamin Wendell hostage, and were using him as ransom, demanding that unless the UNSC removed all cruisers and civilization from the Karaluan sector, they would kill Wendell. The UNSC refused, and instead sent out a team designed for this kind of worst-case scenario. Enter Casey's Nghtwraiths, a team that performed the same duties as the ancient S.W.A.T. teams on Earth. But back to the story.
Casey's pilot Gregory Pillas said, "We're touching down Sarge, prepare for disembarkment immediately. And good luck."
Casey disconnected his safety harness, and pressed the pad for the top hatch of the AP's gun turret. With a soft hiss it steadily opened, and Casey emerged into sunlight.

Ka'soon watched the marines leap out from their aircraft ten metres away, and clicked his mandibles rapidly as once again fiery pain raced up his leg. The marines couldn't see Ka'soon, as he was in the shadows. He had been in the last Dropship as it had crashed, and now Ka'soon was trapped under a red-hot piece of its hull. His right leg had been shorn off by a jagged piece of steel as he hit the earth, and now purple blood pumped from its stump. He ignored the pain and brought up his plasma rifle, taking aim at the leading marine. His dog-tag read: Joseph Casey. Ka'soon slowly pressed the trigger, and suddenly realized a marine had spotted him, and was bringing his MA5B around to bear on him. Ka'soon turned slightly, and fired at the marine that had spotted him.

Private Lars Jenkinson screamed as he was hit by about fifteen rounds of plasma, and his body leapt and contorted. Casey dropped onto one knee, bringing up his MA5B as he did so. He let out a short, controlled burst of fire at the elite, hitting its collar-bone. It slumped to the earth, lifeless. "Son of a bitch!" Casey yelled, running forward to see if there was any life left in Private Jenkinson. A faint glimmer of hope fluttered in his heart as he saw Jenkinson's chest rising and falling. "Hendo!" Casey shouted, motioning for the squad's medic to assist. "Do whatever it takes to keep this man alive until the AP gets back. Understood?"
Private Glen Henderson nodded, already tending to Jenkinson's wounds.
"Okay marines! Let's get Wendell!"

Ia'suan looked up through the bunker's clear roof, and hissed as he was blinded by the sun's blinding light. He raised his arm to cover his eyes. When he lowered it the light was gone. Ia'suan whipped his head up, and blocking the sun was an armoured figure. The sun was directly behind the silhouette's head, like some mythical halo. But Ia'suan knew this was not a Covenant warrior. He snarled a warning, and brought up his plasma rifle. But he was too slow. The figure, followed by seven others, launched itself into the air, supported by a rapidly unraveling nylon rope. It brought out twin silenced M6D assault pistols as it fell, and the last thing Ia'suan ever heard was the quietened "thwack" of the guns discharging their deadly payload.

Casey removed the safety harness from his belt, and the other Nightwraiths followed suite. He hauled the elite's body into the shadows of a storage room. Casey said, "That was too close. If it had fired that plasma rifle the alarm would have been raised. And then we would have had a challenge. Now, the last hostage transmission from Wendell came from a large room, judging by the echo in the background." Casey switched on his helmet-integrated microphone and said, "Pillas. We need to know where the largest room in this place is. It used to be a UNSC bunker, so look for any maps for a bunker on Earth VIII. Over."
Pillas replied, "The largest room in the bunker is the mess hall, which is in the centre of the building. So just follow any halls heading east. Over."
"Okay Wraiths! Prepare for a firefight!"

To be continued in:
The Wrath Of The Shadows