1013 Hours, January 3, 2553 (Military Calendar)/
Reco grunted, and cringed as he climbed into the Pelican drop ship. He looked at his shoulder, arm, and leg. All blackened, as if scorched by a firestorm. He had blue and red blood splattered on his armor and face. He yawned. He hadn't gotten any sleep in almost sixteen hours. He closed his eyes as the Pelican lifted up. He sighed. It was a sigh of relief, and sorrow. He had lost too many good friends during the war. His morale had dropped a mile from that, and the fact that they were loosing almost every ground engagement. The fact that they got replacements cheered him up- at least a bit. He opened his eyes and looked out of the bay door. A smoldering wreck lay in distance, about to become a crater a quarter of a kilometer wide. The column of Scorpion Main Battle Tanks halted. Their turrets spun around on a dime, and faced the Huntress. They fired. The Huntress flashed a blinding white light, and was exiled from existence. "Sir, we've got boogies on our tail," the pilot spoke over the intercom. "Alright Marines, engage on sight." Reco watched for any signs of danger. He couldn't see any; at least he couldn't see where they were coming from. A formation of a dozen and a half fighters approached the formation, backed by the suns, making it almost impossible to see them. It was an old World War I trick. So the Covenant did know more about us than we thought, Reco thought as he finally caught a glimmer in the sun. "We've got fighters boys, seven o'clock high, approaching via sun block." "Roger that." The dozen men in the Pelican opened up on the fast approaching fighters. When they got within range, the Marines could see a metallic silver shield flicker. The six Warthogs, and six Scorpion MBTs opened up on them, along with small arms fire from every Pelican crewmember. The formation split, and started targeting individual Pelican drop ships. "God damn it! Those aren't no God damned Banshees. We've got Seraph fighters on our asses!" Reco opened a COM channel to Delta Storm. "This is Roughneck Two-Zero. We are leaving the crash site and are being pursued by enemy forces. Say again, we are being pursued by enemy air patrols. Requesting assistance from any available Longsword interceptors in grid fourteen by twenty three. Acknowledge?" "Roger that, Longsword interceptors are being dispatched as we speak. Out." The link was killed, and Reco returned to firing his weapon to no avail. Two Seraph fighters were pursuing one Pelican drop ship. The Seraphs opened up with a salvo of plasma blasts. The open bay doors were targeted immediately, and three Marines inside were tore apart in their seats. The Seraphs turned to face the thrusters, and shot them to hell. The thrusters caught fire, and the Pelican immediately plummeted the one hundred feet to the surface. The Pelican nose dived, and crumpled upon impact. The three remaining survives were jettisoned from their seats, flew twenty yards, and fell to the ground, dead. Twelve seconds later, it blew up. A column of black smoke rose from the wreckage.
A Seraph fighter turned towards the Pelican that Roughneck Two-Zero was in. Reco held down the trigger, along with Anubis, Ares, Zethus, Apollo, and Izanagi, who just fired round after round into the fighter. A roar of engines could b heard in the distance. It wasn't Covenant. It was Human. A flight of twenty Longsword interceptors steadily approached the combatants. The Seraph that pursued Roughneck Two-Zero fired one last shot. The round hit Reco in the chest, and was thrust into unconsciousness. The Seraphs engaged the Longsword fighters. Twelve Longswords were lost. The twelve Seraphs fighters were routed out. Some would have thought it a fair exchange. It wasn't. Every Longsword held four men, compared to the two of the Seraph fighter. All together, it equaled forty-eight to twenty-two. Not a fair exchange.
1248 Hours, January 3, 2553 (Military Calendar)/
Reco woke from unconsciousness to a numbing feeling. He looked up to see a green tent over head. He looked at himself, and saw that he wore a white night gown. He looked to his left, green. He looked to his right, his matte-black insulator suit and gray armor lay in a table. A pain singed through his body, overwhelming the numbing felling. He screamed out in pain. A nurse, wearing a short, white skirt, walked in. "Is there a problem?" She asked as she approached the Lt. Commander. "Where's the General?" He asked the nurse. "He'll be with your in a second," she said as she walked out of the room. Reco watched her ass all the way out of the room. Damn, I'd like some of that, he thought. The General walked in the door, interrupting his thoughts. Every instinct in him told him to salute. He rose, lifting his body up about three inches. He cringed and moaned at the pain. "Stay down," the General said. "Good work. I am sorry about your friend, Lt. Com. Johnson." Reco remember all about the past, the good, and the bad times. The worst was when he lost him. The General paused for a moment, and then continued. "Son, you have done a great deed to your country, and your home planet. You faced impossible odds, and routed out forty-nine Elites. For that, you are being awarded the Citation of Courage. For your wounds, the Purple Heart." The General walked over to the spot where Reco lay, and stretched out his arm. Reco accepted, and shook his hand, while saying "Thank you." "Uh, sir. There's one thing. When can I return to my men?" "Son, your wounds haven't healed. It will be at least three days to week before your combat ready." Reco sighed. "Sir, will all due respect, the Marine Corps is my life. In my career, I have shared traditions with my men and myself. But there is one tradition that needs to be upheld to the end: Honor. Please, sir, my men need me out there, not in a field hospital cot. Let me return to my men, and fight." The General was taken aback, and had to ponder the request. After a tense two minutes, the General spoke: "Alright son, suit up. There is an available Warthog outside. Operation: HAMBURGER HILL starts in twenty minutes. You can make it with best speed." "Thank you, sir." Reco cringed and tightened his teeth as he tried to rise from his bed. He sang the Marine Corps Band theme song in his head to take his mind off the pain. He took his legs, and swung them over the side of the bed. He stepped down, and took a heavy first step. He moaned. The nurse returned. Reco waved her away. He staggered. The nurse rushed to his aid, and helped him to his insulator and armor. He slipped in the suit, and began putting on his armor. It took him ten minutes, with the help of three technicians. He picked up his helmet, placed it at his side, walked out side, proceeded to the armory, grabbed a M90 shotgun, just in case it got up close and personnel, an M6D pistol, an MA5B assault rifle, and four fragmentation grenades. He slapped in a clip of ammunition in every weapon, and inserted twelve eight-gauge rounds into the shotgun chamber. He slung the shotgun over his back, placed the pistol in a holster, and proceeded out the door, pointing his MA5B in the sky. Slung over his chest was a bandoleer of four grenades. He walked to the nearest Warthog, placed his M90 shotgun in the glove compartment, and set his MA5B on the passenger's seat. Before he started the engine, he thought, 'Hell, I don't deserve any kind of medals. Citation of Courage or Purple Heart. I could've got myself killed unless it was for those three mysterious men clad in gray. That was blind stupidity, not courage or bravery.'
As there was no formal "parking lot," Reco simply put the vehicle in first gear, and slammed on the accelerator. He switched to second, third, fourth, fifth, and finally to sixth. By that time, he was already going one hundred twenty kilometers per hour. His tires gripped the earth, and kicked up gravel, earth, and dust all over the area. He headed for an armed checkpoint. He wondered why they bothered having a guard, when all the men should be out fighting the Covenant. He tore through the wooden gate that blocked the path. The gate turned to splinters, and unaffected, Reco kept on truckin'. He looked at his watch, five minutes. He was already four miles away from the base, and he kept going. He hit a creek bed. The tires spun, and the vehicle fishtailed, swerved, and launched out of the dry creek bed. Reco stomped on the accelerator, now well exceeding one hundred and fifty kilometers per hour. Half a mile. He could see the mountain in the distance, six kilometers away. Up ahead, rows of Scorpions, Warthogs, and Pelicans lay assembled, ready for action in a moments notice. Reco headed right for the Warthogs. About twenty yards away, he slammed on the break, and fishtailed to his right. The vehicle came to a halt, perpendicular with the other Warthogs, exactly three feet away from the one to the side of it. Reco left the engine running, popped open the glove compartment, retrieved his M90 shotgun and picked up his MA5B assault rifle, and exited the vehicle. He slung the shotgun over his back, and held his MA5B across his chest with both hands. He walked over to the nearest tent, where crowds of Marines were bickering on the plan. As Reco approached, a hush fell over the men. One man immediately recognized him and yelled out, "Hey, that's Reco! The crazy bastard." Reco cracked a smile, he had to admit, he was crazy back there at the crash site. "Ok, listen Marines. No more crackin' jokes or jacking around. We've got a mission to complete." He walked over to a board, and used his MA5B as a pointer. "Here's HAMBURGER HILL, six kilometers east. Here we are. We will be inserted a kilometer out from the base of the mountain. I will command the frontal assault, lead by Roughneck Two-Zero and the 33rd ODST Task Force. The 68th Delta Force will be inserted at the top of the castle, via two Pelican drop ships. The mountain is honey combed with tunnels and chambers. The flanking assaults will be lead by the 52nd, 551st, and 9th Armored Divisions. This is a daring plan here, but if we can achieve surprise, we might have well have won already. Gather weapons, preferably an MA5B and an M90 for face-to-face action. We will be in a confined space, that means no explosives unless nessecary. Dismissed." The Marines and ODSTs filed out of tent, and went to their individual tents and barracks to retrieve weapons and the like. The men assembled into three parallel lines of equal numbers. Reco paced in front of them, as he gave them a final pep talk. "They've got looking for a fight. They've slaughtered innocence people. And they want to kill you too. Now lets return the favor and get them before they get us. Fall out!" The Marines and ODSTs broke lines and rushed towards their Pelicans, Warthogs, and Scorpion MBTs. Roughneck Two-Zero followed Reco as he calmly walked toward a Pelican drop ship. He climbed in, followed by his teammates. He looked as if he were ready to give his life up for his men, and he always was ready to do it. He would take any bullet, jump on any grenade, or do whatever it took to make sure that his team got home, alive. As soon as the Pelicans lifted up, a pounding hit the mountain and the kilometer of fields around it, came from four batteries of 105mm howitzers.
Longsword interceptors strafed the mountain and anything that moved with Hellfire missiles and 50mm autocannons. Smaller field artillery pieces like the 95mm and 100mm also bombarded the countryside, tearing up the earth and sending it in the air. This is it, Reco thought, the battle that will decide who takes Eclipse and who takes death. The Warthogs would be the heads of the spear, charging the barriers with fast and mobile harassment from all angles. The Scorpions would come next, under cover of massive Air and Artillery Cover Fire. They would lay siege to the stronghold, and would follow by a rapid advance of infantry on foot. As soon as they reached the entrance to the lions domain, the 68th Delta Force would land on top of the mountain, secure any weapons, hold the top of the mountain, or advance downwards and hook up with Roughneck Two-Zero and 33rd. Either way, it was a gamble, but if it worked, it would catch the Covenant by surprise. They would scatter and run in the midst of the Marines, and be toe down by overwhelming numerical odds. The Warthogs began their harassment of the Covenant, weaving, zigzagging and doing whatever it took to confuse and destroy them. Two lines of Scorpions, twenty in a line, followed suit. The artillery hadn't been zeroed yet, and so some artillery shells came dangerously close to destroying a few Scorpion MBTs. Overhead, the formation of Pelicans broke up. Six stayed in formation, heading for the entrance to the mountain. This was Roughneck Two-Zero, and 33rd. Two fell behind, the 68th Delta Force. Four headed right, four left, and four circled around the back. These were the elements of the assault teams. The artillery bombardment halted as the Pelicans neared one kilometer from the mountain. The remaining elements of the assault force continued their approach. Reco jumped out first, followed by Zethus, Anubis, Ares, Izanagi, Apollo, and Isis. Another Pelican included the ODST troopers that helped Two-Zero in the trenches, they were now part of Roughneck Two-Zero. The remaining four Pelicans, the 33rd, descended, dropped their load, and headed away into the horizon. Reco lead Roughneck Two-Zero into a hazy-fray of firefights right up to the base of the mountain. At the mouth of the mountain, Reco took the right side of the entrance with Roughneck, while the 33rd leaned up against the rock to the left. A Marine pulled a fragmentation grenade, spun around, and chucked it into the doorway. A concussion reverberated through the rock wall and ground, rattling a tooth out of one mans mouth. Reco held up a fist, counted to three with his fingers, spun around, and raked back and forth, laying down suppressive cover fire. He held the middle of the doorway, while Zethus, Apollo, and the rest of Roughneck Two-Zero charged in low to the ground, on Reco's right side. Exactly parallel to them, the 33rd did the exact same thing. Apollo and Zethus on one side, with two 33rd' s on the reverse side laid down a base of fire. The entered in, and came to an immediate hallway. Anubis, Zeus, and Ares came from the back of the line, and crouched right in front of Reco. One 33rd came to his left, with Isis to Reco's left. With the front line crouching, and Reco, Isis, and the 33rd member standing, it created a phalanx position. Reco looked at Isis, Isis returned the gaze. He smiled, she smiled. The lines slowly advanced, with the rear lines raking back and forth, searching their six and above their heads for any signs of hostile movement. A light blue body lay sprawled on the ground. The back of its head lay black with soot, and the temple blown out of its skull. A Marine walked over to the Marine that threw the grenade, and asked, "Hey man. Where's HE at? I wanna join up." The Marine pulled out a grenade, and handed it to the curios Marine. "Give it a try." The Marine placed it in his pouch, and continued to observe the predicament that they were in. They were in a large circular room, with four doors. The odd thing was that it was right after the entrance. "Okay Soldiers, listen up," Reco talked aloud, so everyone could hear him. "Two-Zero is coming with me, we are going topside to link up with the 68th. 33rd, your staying here. Hold his area to the last bullet, last man. Over turn those crates and anything that can provide cover, and place them in a circle in the center of this room. Over those doors like glue, no Covenant activity in this room." "Sir, yes, sir!" "Move out!" Reco walked towards a doorway, M90 Shotgun in hand. His HUD eyepiece told him that they had to go through seven stories of hostile environment just to get to the surface. The doorway opened up, it was an elevator. It revealed a Black Ops Elite clad in light blue armor. Reco pumped a shell into its shield, whilst it took the blunt of the attack. The Elite raised its arms, pleading for mercy. "Hey Zeus!" "What's up?" "Should we have mercy on him?" "Nah, they mercilessly slaughtered millions of us. Kill it." "Ok." Reco walked up to it, placed the muzzle of his shotgun right in the middle of its forehead, and squeezed off a round, squelching any possible resistance out of the creature. The company boarded the elevator, and Gizmo tapped the control panel. They stood tense for about forty-five seconds, until the elevator halted, and hurled them into a guns-a-blazing firefight. A platoon of Special Ops Covenant held off the 68th Delta Force at the top of the mountain. The Covenant were flanked by four Shade plasma cannons, one stationed at each corner of the "roof top." Two Shades rotated, and faced Reco and Zeus squarely in the forehead. Reco squeezed the trigger, with hundreds of pellets hitting the Grunt in the body, killing it at point blank range. Zeus threw a grenade, it exploded, catapulting the Shade turret over the edge of the mountain. Ares holstered a Jackhammer missile system on his shoulder, and let one rip. The missile pierced the air, a defining roar could be heard as it raced towards the helpless light blue Grunt. The Grunt hopelessly tried to bail from the deathtrap, but was struck by the rockets splash damage, giving the Grunt third degree burns, sizzling its innards upon impact with the ravenous fiery death. Zethus, Apollo, Gizmo, Anubis, and Isis charged out of the elevator, and began firing into the platoon of Covenant. They were met with the favor. Zethus was struck in the gut by a pair of salmon projectiles. After a few seconds, they exploded, scrambling his organs. His face immediately began to pale, due to lose of blood. "Medic! Medic!" Zethus screamed at the top of his lungs. "Man down! Man down!" Reco yelled as he ran towards Zethus, placed his M90 Shotgun on the ground beside him, grabbed the exposed area between his shoulder pads and collar bone, and drug him out of harms way. "Your gonna make it," Reco comforted the departing Zethus. He had to lie to him, he didn't like it, but he had to. Zethus departed from life, leaving behind a wife and a one-year-old daughter on Earth. Reco took it all in in an instant; Gizmo fired blindly into the mass of Covenant bodies, while hiding behind a pillar; Anubis charged the Covenant, getting struck twice by plasma, he collapsed, and tried to crawl for safety; Ares fired desperately into the lines with his chain gun; Isis began to nit pick at the Covenant from the safety of the top of a pillar that she scaled; Apollo threw a fragmentation grenade, killing two Grunts and an Elite; the 68th Delta Force was being over run. He had to do something. He left Zethus, ran towards his M90 Shotgun, picked it up, and bum rushed the Covenant. He was followed by Zeus, who also bolstered an M90 Shotgun. Zeus was struck by a plasma round, but kept running. He put five rounds squarely in a Grunts forehead. Reco charged an Elite, primed his rifle, shot once, and Gizmo finished him off with an explosive round right in the temple with his M6D pistol. Gizmo, with replenished courage, charged with Reco and Zeus. They collapsed on the exposed Covenant, and gave them a hard time. A white streak appeared right next to Reco's right shoulder. He looked back to see an Elite with a round right in his eye, and Isis smiling at him. He gave her the thumbs up, and returned to firing his shotgun. Apollo, awe struck by the death of his comrade, Zethus, charged at the Covenant with blind rage. He empty a whole clip into an Elite. Zeus finished it off with one round right into its neck. The Elite collapsed, clutching his neck. A golden Elite charged the 68th Delta Force. It swung its plasma sword and impaled a sergeant, hurling it over the edge of the mountain. Reco charged at it, cocking his shotgun, fired, cocked it again, and placed his rifle at the back of the Elite's head. Grunts panicked, and Elite's yelled in anger. Zeus, Anubis, Apollo, and Ares kept firing, tearing up Covenant by the pairs. "Order the surrender!" Reco yelled at the Elite, "Or I blow your head off, and kill them anyways!" Reco yelled at his men, "Cease fire, I want everyone to hear him!" The firing stopped, and the Elite spoke. "Ghole tur'ase!" It yelled, "Cease fire! Surrender!" The remaining Grunts, Jackals, and Elites dropped their shields and weapons. "Apollo, Zeus, police their weapons." "Roger." Zeus and Apollo held the Covenant at gunpoint, while gathering their weapons.
Reco opened up a secure COM channel so that they couldn't hear him, and said, "Kill them." Zeus, Apollo, and Ares began placing round after round into the Covenant. Grunts began screaming in pain and despair, pleading for mercy. "Cowardice fools," the Golden Elite yelled. "What? What did you say? This is war you moron, not a game. Speak again, and I'll kill you!" Reco slammed his muzzle deeper into the Elite's skin, drawing a dark purple blood. "No you wont. I am your only lifeline. If you want to die, kill me. If you want to life, spare me." "Why should I? I could simply kill you and blow this place to hell, and screw every one of you bastards. Now walk!" Marines and Covenant bodies strewn the ground. Out of two dozen 68th that had been deployed, only eight remained. Reco spoke to them, "If you want spare ammo, now is your chance. We are heading back down, and we will rendezvous with the 33rd." "Roger that." They gathered ammo, and Reco reloaded his shotgun, while Zeus held the Elite up. After he was finished, he took him back, and headed for the elevator. "Don't try anything stupid. There's a dozen and a half of us, and one of you. Give me your plasma grenades." The commander Elite handed them over, and Reco held on to them, rather than throw them over the edge. A status report appearred on Reco's HUD eyepiece. The 9th, 52nd, and 551st had been decimated, and the 33rd hadn't reported in. "Holy shit," Reco whispered to himself. "Get in the elevator, we've got company!" Reco rushed towards the elevator. The other half dozen men filed in behind him, all with their weapons pointed at the Elite. The doors closed, and the elevator descended. The doors opened at the bottom, and displayed a sight that Reco as well as every one else wouldn't forget. Marines had been mercilessly slaughtered. Bodies lay strewn against walls and the floor. A streak of blood drizzled down the wall, and dipped down a Marine's face. The 33rd had been demolished. Just then, the Com channel opened up. "This is Delta Storm, Operation HAMBURGER HILL aborted, repeat, operator aborted. Delta Storm is in danger of being overrun, repeat, all units return to Delta Storm! What the- Awww!" The radio operator had been killed. "You prick!" Reco screamed, and pumped a shell into the Elite, splattering blood and chunks of bones against the walls. "All elements, pull back, we've got some pest problems at Delta Storm. Mission compromised! Pull back!" The Marines filed out of the mountain, hopefully never to return. Before exiting the entrance, Reco noticed a scripture inscribed on the wall. It read: "You have come to my castle, and you will not leave. The Gods will prevail, and your infidel lives will be crushed." Enraged, Reco stormed out of the "castle." With that note left behind, he knew he would return in full force. He would crush them, and their petty dreams of universal dominance. He would kill them by himself, he knew it. All the elements of HAMBURGER HILL and be slaughtered, and Reco obligated himself to avenge each and every one of them.