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Unstable Territory: Part 1: A fierce battle
Posted By: FOrunnER
Date: 24 April 2004, 6:23 PM

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En orbit around Halo Installation 03, January 2nd, 2553

Authors Note: This may not be very good because I had a moderate case of writers block when I wrote this. Oh and another thing, I was informed that a bunker was basically a whole in the ground. That's not the case in my story. Just to give you and idea of what a Covenant bunker in my story looks like, it's a large metal structure with sloped sides that are half buried in the ground that serves as a multi-purpose structure. Anyway, Enjoy.

       The human ship faced the Covenant flagship, the Evil Undoings. Both ships seemed to stare at each other in the void of space, the warm red glow on the sides of the Covenant ship and the white sparkle inside the barrel of the human ships cannon signaled that both ships were ready to fire at a moments notice, however neither did. Instead, the human destroyers docking bay doors opened, and hundreds of Pelican drop-ships, Falcon command shuttles, Longsword space fighters, and ODST entry vehicles flew out of its doors. In response, the Evil Undoings opened its bay doors and Seraph single fighters launched and chased the assortment of human vehicles into Halo's atmosphere. The Longswords managed to hold back the Seraphs long enough for nearly two-thirds of the original compliment to make it down to Halo's surface and away from the grasp of the single fighters.
       With its work done, the destroyer picked up the remaining Longswords and prepared to jump to slip-space. A dozen Covenant ships, mostly Carriers and Cruisers, along with hundreds of boarding ships attempted to surround the destroyer, however by then it had built up enough speed and jumped to Slip-space and was long gone. This was how re-supplying of forces on halo was done regularly. The Covenant dare not fire a shot while amongst the presence of Halo for fear of damaging it, so once every couple of weeks a human ship would jump into the Halo system, drop off a contingent of troops, and make a slip-space jump back to Earth before the Covenant could surround and detain them. It was risky, but ONI deemed the possible technological discoveries on Halo worth it.
       They found the co-ordinates of his Halo thanks to the compressed information Cortana had brought back from Halo 04's control room, which had taken weeks to decode. It had contained within it the co-ordinates to the rest of the 7 Halo Installations and hundreds of other Forerunner sights, and of course with other tidbits of technological data, however the files that contained the Forerunner history had been unfortunately saturated by the hasty compressing process. Obviously the Covenant didn't like the fact of the humans crawling all over there precious God's relics, but they sure as hell wouldn't destroy one to get rid of them. And as of right now they couldn't use overwhelming force to get rid of Earth, because they were fighting a double-fronted war against Humans and the Flood.
       For months it seemed as if the Flood had died with Installation 04, but recently HighCom had intercepted Covenant communications that reported 'Ships infected with the Hell Spawn passing there disease from planet to planet'. How the Flood escaped 04 was a mystery, but for now it seemed to be a good thing, for only holy worlds deep within the Covenant territory had been hit, and as it turned out the Flood couldn't have picked a worse time to hit for the Covenant. They had lost 175 ships at Reach, another 300 had been estimated to have been in orbit around Installation 04 when it exploded, and another 500 had been lost when the Unyielding Hierophant had been destroyed, thanks to the Spartans. That was 975 ships that the Covenant had lost in an extremely short time period, and those kind of numbers would put a dent in any fleet, and then as the Covenant were trying to regroup, the Flood had attacked. As of now the Covenant couldn't spare enough ships to launch a decent offensive against Earth or the inner colonies. Plus unbeknownst to the Human forces, there was a possible Civil War brewing amongst the Upper Classes of the Covenant race. The Covenant rule was being shaken at its very foundations.
       But the human fleet hadn't gotten off scott free either, after taking an inventory after the Battle of Reach, UNSC Command-and-Control found out that they only had 215 ships left in there whole fleet. Civilian cargo shuttles and personal yachts were being confiscated and built into ships of war as the UNSC shipyards around Mars and the rest of the Inner Colonies had been ordered to double there building rate. Right now the Human Empire wasn't under a lot of pressure and had plenty of time to lick its wounds, plus the information Cortana brought back definitely gave them and edge technology wise. For the first time in 30 years, the sky was filled with hope for Earth and her children.

       Mendoza strolled through Firebase Sierra7, home to three platoons of ODST's and a half-company of Marine regulars. The place was a hive of activity in the preparation in the first of what would hopefully be the first of many successful strikes against the Covenant ground forces. Warthogs hummed, Longswords roared as they performed mock strafe runs, Drill Sergeants screamed, Privates cursed, guns rattled in target practice, and all was as should be. Marcus moved over to a Hell-jumper strapping up in standard ODST FB (full body) armor. The marine had strapped an S16-SMG to each thigh and had just slapped a clip into an MA7B battle rifle when Mendoza wrapped his arm around the mans throat.
       The Marine grabbed Marcus's arm and forced him in front of him then wrenched the arm behind his back. "You know", said Mendoza, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "I could court martial you for laying your hands on a superior officer"
       The ODST let go and Mendoza turned around, "Why you little bastard..."
       "Good to see you to Sampson"
       The each gave each other a high five and Sampson shook his head and turned back to his weapon. He pulled back the firing mechanism, slipping a round into the chamber. "What the hell you doin' here El-Tee? Shouldn't you be sipping wine with the rest of the Command rank?"
       Mendoza grinned and pocketed a grenade, "Ahhh you know me, that ain't my style", he said as he grabbed an SMG.
       "The Major actually let you go on this mission? I'm surprised, you know how he is about 'mingling with the lower ranks'"
       "Yeah I know, he's a lousy prick. I didn't get permission from him, I got the Colonel to give me the go ahead". As finished strapping an SMG to his other side and started putting on the chest piece, he said, " I managed to convince him that it'd be a good idea if I saw to it that the plan layout was carried out step by step, he's never liked Sergeant Jones"
       Sampson eyed him warily as he picked up an MA5B, "Well don't get me wrong, I appreciate your willingness to mingle with the 'lower ranks', but you might wanna trade in the hunk of junk for a better weapon"
       Mendoza looked at the weapon then at Sampson, "You mean old faithful? Never, this baby has seen me through more than one firefight"
       Sampson nodded and strapped on his helmet, "Well alright, I'm scheduled to board Pelican 2 in five, so I'll see you later"
       Mendoza nodded and waved. Marcus Mendoza and Thomas Sampson had been friends ever since he had joined the military at age 16. Mendoza came from an all military family, his father had served the UNSC for 6 years until a rebel had shattered his spine with a sledgehammer and rendered him unable to fight. All three of his sons, Marcus Mendoza, Zachary Mendoza, and Samuel Mendoza, had all joined the army at age 16 to fight in the Covenant war, two had tragically died. 30 year-old Samuel had been stationed on the UNSC Destroyer New America when it had been destroyed in orbit around Jericho VII, 25 year old Zachary had been stationed on the Pillar of Autumn when it had gone MIA after the Battle of Reach, neither of his brothers probably even had the honor of dying with a weapon in his hand. The rest of his family had been on his ancestral home, Draco III, when the Covenant had glassed it as well. He was the only surviving Mendoza. He hadn't given it much thought before, but now it weighed on his shoulders like a two ton Warthog.
       When Mendoza turned 18, he qualified for the ODST division and immediately signed up, much to his brothers dismay (for the rivalry between ODST's and Marine Regulars was known throughout the Corps). He had rapidly accelerated through the ranks, enough so that he had been stationed on Halo when he hit Junior-Lieutenant. Colonel Sabers had quickly recognized his tactical brilliance, bumped him up to full Lieutenant and offered him a job on the Command staff for Firebase Sierra7. He had accepted, but only because the pay was twice as good for a command officer. The Hell-jumper spirit still resided in him and he loved to get his hands dirty, much to Major Quads disapproval and Colonel Sabers approval. At age 23, he had advanced farther in the military than either of his brothers.
       He sighed and continue to strap on his armor, preparing for the inevitable battle...

       Three of the four Shades manning the Covenant outpost were unmanned, and one had a sleeping grunt at the controls. With his NVG (Night Vision Goggles) he spotted the rest of the Covenant forces. 3 orange Grunts moved in a lazy circle around the bases perimeter, 5 Jackals in the general area around the Shades, there was now only a single Elite by the Ghost, and the Brute was standing guard at the entrance to the bunker. All the sentries appeared to be drowsy, good...
       He gave a slight hoot, and immediately five Rocket Launchers lined the crest of the hill they were hiding behind. Mendoza put his eyes back into the goggles, just to make sure that that sniper hadn't gotten smart and turned his active camo on and to more easily spot any Covenant he couldn't see from this position. The sniper Elite was in his tent, and the only Covenant he saw that he couldn't before were two sleeping Grunts on the other side of the methane pit. Mendoza hooted again, and the night blew apart with light and sound as 5 missiles struck there targets.
       A rocket hit each Shade, turning it into charred husks and hurling them into the night. The Shade that the Grunt was sleeping in hit the repulsor field between the guns supports and its cockpit, sending the startled Grunt flying through the air clutching the controls of his gun, which no longer worked. His life was preserved until he was smeared against the bunker wall in a gout of luminous blood. However the fifth lone rocket, lashed to the far end of the base which held the Grunts methane pit. The pit was covered by a crystal-white dome, easily 10 ft wide by 10ft long, and inside the bottom was dug into the ground to provide more room for the Grunt occupants. One of these was found in every Covenant base that contained Grunts, it served as a refill station for there suits and a place they could sleep without fear of there suits running out of methane while they were sleeping. The inside was filled with methane, and if the rocket punctured through the side of the dome containing it, the explosion would easily take out half the base. Alas, the Covenant materiel proved to be thick and strong. The rocket exploded, and the crystal glass making up the dome cracked, parts of it flaked off, but it held strong as ever.
       Mendoza cursed loudly as the entire base came out to investigate. They had been counting on that explosion to take out the majority of the base and merely pick off the stragglers. However instead, now the entire base, minus one Grunt and four Shades, were alerted to there presence.
       "Fireteam's A and B, move to engage, Warthogs Delta 1 and 2, move in opposing circular patters around the base, therefore spreading your fire into every nook and cranny of the base," He yelled to the demolition experts next to him, " Reload for another salvo, aim for command officers or large clusters".
       The man next to him yelled back, "Sir, we only brought a single case of 2 rockets each, we didn't think we would need more for a prolonged engagement"
       "Well then you better make your shots count!!", he shoved his helmet firmly on his head with his MA5B at the ready then moved down towards the fighting.
       Two Fireteam's rushed out of flanking positions on the Covenant base to catch the Covenant completely out in the open, and immediately half the Grunt population was taken down. One of the blue Elites roared something and the troops fanned out, using gear crates, mining equipment, shrubs, and charred Shades as cover. Fire was exchanged back and forth through the night, this was obviously not the clean cut victory Mendoza had imagined. Two Warthogs came out of nowhere and started circling the base, taking out numerous Grunts and Jackals and receiving plasma blasts, one overcharged shot hit the passenger in one of the Warthogs in the head, effectively vaporizing his brains and awarding the offending Grunt a bullet in his cranial case.
       Mendoza finally made it down the hill, as the Brute fired a grenade at two soldiers in front of him. One dived out of the way, but the other was instantly torn apart by the grenade. The marine that rolled out of the way cursed loudly and took cover behind the side of the bunker. Mendoza followed him over and shot a spray of bullets at the Brute, a three round burst hit his soldier but was kept at a shallow wound by the rock hard muscle, and a splattering of bullets were stopped by his chest piece. The Brute turned around and fired two grenades at him. One hit the spot he had just vacated, and the other fell short, putting a cloud of plasma gas between him and the Brute and safely allowing him to complete the journey over to he fellow marine. He panted and leaned his back against the cold purple alloy, the marine next to him saluted, "Sir!"
       Mendoza gave him a terse salute back, then looked at where the marine was holding his side. "How did that happen?"
       The Marine looked at the wound then said, "A Jackal overcharged shot missed by centimeters, but it got close enough to give me second degree burns"
       "Are you combat able?"
       "Good because I have a plan", he poked his head around the corner to where the Brute had been standing. It had turned to another victim and was brutally stabbing a wounded marine with the bayonet-like blade mounted on his gun. "On three, you roll out and fire at the Brutes exposed flank, then while he's distracted I'll toss a grenade behind him and cover you with the MA5B"
       "That's it!!"
       "You got a better idea!!", the Private shook his head. "Okay then we'll go on three. 1...", but he was cut off be three more explosion of light and sound. Three rockets roared towards there targets, two hit the Methane dome in an attempt to puncture it (Mendoza grimaced when it didn't explode), and the other nailed the ground in front of the Brute. He was engulfed in flame, however before the fire could kill him hundreds of pieces of shrapnel traveling at the speed of sound ripped through his body like a thousand bullets. The fire and explosion lifted the charred body upwards and hurled it towards the other side of the base. However, while the shot had undoubtedly taken out the Brute, it had been sloppy, for the wounded marine that the Brute had slowly been torturing had also been caught in the fire and was denied the honor of being killed by the enemy instead of friendly fire. The barrage of rockets had given away the rocket-jockeys position, for somewhere out in the battle, the camouflaged sniper still lurked, a sliver-blue pulse laser lashed out at there position. Over the sound of battle the scream couldn't be heard, however the laser had obviously hit its target, for a rocket went wild and hit the ground 30 meters from the base.
       Meanwhile, the Warthogs were what was giving the Covenant the most trouble, they had taken out more than half the jackals and an Elite already. The other blue Elite made a break for the Ghost at the center of the base, he hopped in and managed to get it activated, however as soon as it lifted off the ground a rocket smashed into its nose and forced it into the ground. The Elite was thrown over the nose of his craft twenty meters forward. That was the last of the rockets.
       Another laser lashed out, this time it went through the gunner of the Delta 2, burning through both lungs and the lower heart. The driver panicked and turned sharply from the base, and towards the hill. A third laser punctured the front right tire and the blowout caused the Hog to flip over, spilling its driver and passenger. Immediately a dozen Grunts rushed over to them and tore them apart with there weapons. The screams echoed throughout the valley but were quickly swallowed by the whine of plasma weapons and the rattle of projectiles.
       Mendoza emptied the rest of his clip into a grunts chest, it fell backwards and tried to crawl away but slowly died from its wounds. As Mendoza slapped in another clip to his MA5B, Private West (he had told Mendoza his name earlier) took down two more Grunts with three round bursts to the head. A Jackal popped into view and filled the air with so much fire it looked like his weapon was a full automatic. "Jesus Christ!" yelled West as a plasma bolt singed past his cheek. Mendoza pulled him back behind cover and found him very pale, he had lost a lot of blood. The radio blared, Marcus instructed West to keep pressure on the wound and spoke into the radio, "This better be damn important!!"
       "Sir, this is Delta 1. Are Warthog is badly damaged and we've run out of ammo for our chain gun. We left another ammo drum at the top of the hill, you might have to do without the fire support for a few seconds, over". Marcus spied Delta one, it was in bad shape. Purple and blue blood was pasted all over the exterior of the Jeep, the once beautiful dark green paint job was now literally covered in burn marks. The passenger seat was stained with flecks of dry red blood, one of the axels looked liked it had come loose, and he had no idea how the driver could see with all the smoke coming out of the engine. However more importantly it was already starting its climb up the hill.
       "Delta 1, DO NO, I repeat, DO NOT, go up the hill. There is a sniper in the vicinity and you'll be completely open...."
       To late. A silver-blue laser smashed right through the gunner's body, through the support stalk of his gun, and all the way into the fuel tank, causing the hog to explode in a red-orange fireball. Much to his hoarer, he could see five dots moving towards the flaming wrecks, muzzle flashes from there guns making them easy targets. It was the rocket jockeys, they had switched to assault weapons and moved down the hill. Mendoza grabbed his radio and was about to yell into it when he was knocked out.....

       The Covenant cruiser Lost Hope seemed to stare at the ring as if it were a mystical object. The Cruiser was dark and dank and seemed to have a gloomy and abandoned appearance about it, for not one single light was on. Yellow-green mottled moss covered nearly a third of the ship, covering burns and puncture wounds. Inside, the Flood presence hungered for knowledge. Its physic presence reached out, until it finally managed to touch another Hive mind, the one on Installation 03. The two minds wrapped around each other and exchanged information, and the desire to expand and escape. The Flood mind on the Lost Hope responded with sympathy and withdrew.
       It's whisper echoed through the other hive mind, Soon......