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Force Recon, Scout Sniper Part 5
Posted By: Helljumper<Pittklipse@aol.com>
Date: 24 January 2005, 3:47 AM

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I know it has been a long time since I've posted a chapter of my story. To the newbies and even the veterns, I encourage you to read the 4 other parts before this one to understand the storyline. This chapter is plot continuation, not a lot of action but important for the story as a whole.

2145 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Fross Star System.

      Captain Kara Manu was relieved when Colonel Ackerson left her bridge. She had a general dislike for the Marine officer, but she respected him at the same time. Tapping the stylus from her data pad on her pink lips she sighed. At the age of forty six, she possessed that aged beauty. The few wrinkles that radiated from the sides of her eyes were the results of years in the UNSC Navy and she figured that a few were from the Colonel. Forty six and never married, close but the Covenant had taken that away from her.
      Ackerson had used her. Kara held a strange reservation about that fact. Staring out the main view screen at the planet below the Mystic, she tried to fight the memories. The image of his strong arms holding her on the cold nights would not leave. His facial features were blurry; it was that long since she had last seen him. Holding back the tears, that followed the realization that she would never see him again, were difficult but she managed.
      Coming out of her private thoughts she returned her attention to the task at hand. "Ensign Jones, launch the surveillance satellites. Once they're in position move us to the dark side of the planet's moon. And make it quick, I don't want to be caught out in the open if a Covenant ship decides to randomly enter the system."
      The male navigator replied with an aye, aye ma'am before returning to his task. The Mystic shuttered twice. Kara watched as the Ensign guided the satellites into orbit with a mini joystick while controlling their thrusters so they wouldn't get pulled in by the planet's gravitational force.

      The stars seemed so close but just out of reach. Lieutenant Commander Kara Manu stood erect with her hands behind her back staring out at the stars. For whatever reason, the repair station docked with her supply vessel was kept at a cold fifty degrees. This caused her body's muscles to involuntarily shake in order to produce additional body heat.
      They were so far but yet so close she kept thinking to herself. The Naval officer tried to image what early man used to think about the stars. Standing on Earth and looking up into sky. They probably thought that the dots of light were impossible to reach. Thousands of years later, all it took were a few seconds of calculations by an AI to plot a slipspace jump to as close to one as currently possible.
      The Lieutenant Commander turned her attention to her plasma scarred supply ship off to the right side of the large plain of plexi-glass that separated the vacuum of space from the internal atmosphere of the repair station. She reflected on how lucky she and her crew were to escape the Covenant destroyer that tried so hard to end their lives.
      Her eyes followed the charred black, twisted, and melted metal that once occupied the lateral starboard side of the aging space ship. The massive docking arm of the space station cradled over her vessel as dozens of lines of piping ran from it into the battle damaged ship. The view reminded Kara of the IVs running into her navigators' arm as the Corpsmen carried him from the bridge after escaping the prowling Covenant warship.
      The echoing sound of hard rubber shoes marching on the metal floor caught Manu's attention. Turning her head gracefully to the left, she observed the middle aged Marine officer flanked by two rough looking Marines with rifles approaching her. Her eye caught the silver eagle ranks perched on the lapels of the officer's Class A uniform. Completing a left face, the Lieutenant Commander snapped to attention and saluted.
      The Marine Colonel's dark grey eyes seemed to examine her from head to toe as he marched in unison with his guards. It didn't take her long to realize that they weren't normal Marines. The golden comet patch on their shoulders identified them as Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Why would a Colonel need bodyguards on a United Nations Space Command space station? The answer was clear but she chose not to assume. One of the first lessons she learned in Officer Candidate School. Never assume that's how you make an ass of yourself if you're wrong. In battle the opponent that is wrong is the loser, and losing in battle results in death.
      The officer in his green dress uniform signaled with his left hand for his guards to halt as he closed the gap between himself and Kara. Ten meters away he finally returned her salute before stopping only a meter away from her.

"Lieutenant Commander Manu, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Colonel Ackerson Office of Naval Intelligence." His deep voice seemed to hide his intentions well as Kara ran his name through her memory. She had never met the Marine officer before.

"What brings a high ranking ONI officer out to the middle of no where, Colonel?" She responded to the officer's stern face with a smile. It didn't work to ease his seriousness.

"That was some very," Ackerson paused to find the right words. "Very creative maneuvering you performed today. Why didn't you just leave the system as soon as the enemy ship exited slipspace?"

"My ship was taking on precious cargo. I did not want to leave until the last possible moment, sir."

"Even if that requires endangering the lives of you and your crew?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what was this precious cargo?"

"My ship received a distress call from a colony ship. Their engines went out. We responded and were in the process of transporting the two hundred and thirty colonists to my ship when the Covenant destroyer entered the system."

"Let me jump to the point Kara." Manu didn't like the way he said her first name. It suddenly made her feel uncomfortable. "ONI has a need for your determination. More importantly I have a need for it. I need an experienced naval officer like yourself to command my personal Prowler. Once you agree, you will be instantly promoted to the rank of Captain and then I'll be further able to brief you on what you're responsibilities would be in working for me."

      Commander Manu wondered if the Colonel Ackerson noticed the hesitation in her eyes. "Before you answer, I unfortunately have some bad news." He paused awkwardly as the quizzical look appeared involuntarily on Kara's face. Producing a handheld holo-graphic projector from his pocket he held it between himself and the naval officer. The device snapped to life. A planet appeared followed by a small flash of white light. Three miniature UNSC ships exited the light. Manu listened as Ackerson explained what she was seeing.

"This is a recreation of a battle that happened five days ago in a newly discover star system. You might recognize the lead ship. That is the
Sigma." Ackerson paused and observed Kara's reaction.

      A rush of memories and thoughts filled her mind. Why is he showing me this? What happened to this battle-group? What happened to Carl? She watched the holo-display with attention.

"Commander, I know this is going to be hard for you to watch but it is important that you know. Captain Carl Louis's detachment exited slipspace because of a malfunction with his battle cruiser's AI. The group approached the system's only planet as the crew ran system diagnostics. We still aren't sure why, but a Covenant flagship entered the system. The first set of MAC rounds hit the enemy ship dead on, but it's shields took all the damage. Our ships on the other hand weren't that lucky."

      Kara watched as the small representations of the UNSC ships and the one purple Covenant ship exchanged fire. Captain Louis's cruiser was able to avoid the first volley of plasma torpedoes but the two destroyers that flanked it weren't that fortunate. One UNSC warship took a hit to its bridge instantly killing the crew and crippling the ship. The plasma burned through the vessel as the second destroyer tried to turn and took the torpedo on the middle of its starboard side. The force from the impact twisted the destroyer's superstructure. It snapped from the pressure breaking the ship into two.
Sigma recovered from its evasive maneuvers and leveled itself out before firing another MAC round followed by hundreds of Archer missiles. The heavy tungsten shell penetrated the enemy ship's shields and impacted the engines. Wounded the Covenant capital ship spun slowly towards the system's only planet before the gravity pulled the flagship into the atmosphere.

"Moments after winning, three enemy cruisers entered the system and destroyed the

      Kara gasped at the unemotional way that the Marine officer just told her that her fiance, Captain Carl Louis, was dead. She took a step away from Ackerson as she forced herself not to cry or in fact, show any emotion.

      Captain Manu excused herself from the bridge of the Mystic, leaving her Executive Officer in command. The memories were overwhelming her mental defenses and bringing with them a rush of emotions. How could Colonel Ackerson use the killing of her fiancÚ to recruit her for his Black Ops? The answer was too easy, because it worked.