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The Fallen: Chapter 4 Section 2
Posted By: Hikaru-119<hikaru119@email.com>
Date: 23 July 2003, 3:08 PM

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Chapter 4 Section 2: First Engagements
0230 Hours November 21, 2553 (Military Calendar)
On Board The Odin Enroute to Spacial Coordinates 23.7-178.02-278.01

      After receiving their new Mk III suits they carried out the rest of their orders before having to enter the freezer. The battle group consisting of four frigates, three destroyers, and two cruisers then began the five-day jump to their objective. Only Cortana and the Odin's AI stayed operational for the travel time. When they were only two hours out from their objective the crews were woken up.

      Fog rolled out of the main cryo bay as dozens of pods opened and revealed their inhabitants within. The Chief woke and gagged as the protein supplement exited his lungs. He stopped it in his mouth before he vomited and swallowed it. It left a nasty taste in his mouth, but he'd be able to get something else in his gut before then. He looked around, saw his squad, and noticed the crew letting the stringy fluid roll onto the deck.

      " Rise and shine crew. Time to get to work. " A metallic male voice said from the loud speakers in the room. Many people were rather groggy from the rest and moved in slow sluggish actions as they dressed themselves and woke up. The Chief and the rest of the Spartans threw on some marine B.D.U.'s. They knew if they walked around in their armor just now the crew might be a bit uneasy around them. Problem was the shortest of them was just above average height making them noticeable still. Several other cryo bays opened and the remaining bits of crew began to get to work.

      " So where to now? " Lucas asked the Chief.

      " We'll grab some eats and then we need to go down to the main launch bay and ready what we need to. " the Master Chief replied. The others seemed to agree with that and headed towards the nearby mess hall. There was barely anyone in the room yet. Only a hand full of marines and crew sat eating.

      The seven of them went over to one of the food dispensers and they each grabbed a tray. The inserted them and pushed the buttons as to what they wanted. Although the meals were rather basic it was still good to have something other than M.R.E.'s. The Spartans separated themselves into one of the dark corners and ate there. More crew and marines entered and filled up the mess hall. All of which avoided that corner except for one. The scrawny marine stood there for a moment looking at them and the one open seat.

      The Master Chief looked up to him chewing on his roll. He saw the seat and did an eye check with his squad. None of them cared as he gestured for the man to take a seat. They continued their eating as he sat. An awkward moment had passed for the marine as they ate efficiently and spoke not a word.

      " You're those Spartans the rumors were saying came on board aren't you. " the man said. They all stopped for a full three seconds looking at each other and to the marine. The Chief set finished his roll and swallowed.

      " What makes you think that we are them? " he asked.

      " Does size and the way you seven act around the others mean anything? " the marine replied sarcastically. The Chief was disconcerned by the reply. He was hoping to keep a low profile, but the attempts appeared to be in vain. He mind as well of been inside his armor. " Besides I thought you were supposed to be a bunch of cold-blooded killers. What's with that? "

      " Don't know anything about the cold-blooded part, but we are efficient at what we do. " Peter said answering the man's question. He fell silent as the Spartans finished eating and left for Launch Bay 4.

      " That could have gone better. " Mireille said as exited past a long line of crew trying to get inside the mess hall. The Chief had to agree with her. They never did fit in well with the normal service men that joined like any other human. " I'm assuming we are beginning our preparations now. "

      " That's correct. We'll be in the launch bay until we are called on. " the Chief said pushing the button to the turbo lift. A few seconds passed by and the oversized elevator opened up. They stepped in and pushed the button for the 10th deck. The doors shut and they were accelerated upward. The doors opened and they stepped out into another series of halls. After several minutes of travel they made it to the bottom floor of the launch bay.

      It was huge. Nearly four hundred meters in length, three hundred in width, and two hundred in height. They watched as Warthogs, Scorpions, and Squirrels were being rigged to the eight Pelicans in the launch bay. Still there was enough left over for those dropships two times over. They even noticed the newer model M890 Lobster Dual 90mm Barrel MBTs inside the launch bay along with five Longsword fighters. They entered the bay and proceeded immediately to the center section where munitions were stored.

      When they made it there the Chief presented his credentials to the guards standing there. The accepted them and opened the secure doorway leading to the seven suits. The Spartans helped each other out and put the suits on in about fifteen minutes. Their snap of their helmets locking in sealed the suits and they were close to being ready for combat. A message boomed through the loud speakers of the launch bay.

      " Captain Mortensen to Launch Bay 4. Send the Spartans to the bridge. " It said. They looked to each other and grabbed their weapons. They'd have to give them up at the bridge, but the Captain's voice almost sounded edgy. The ship suddenly felt like it slowed down to a crawl and everyone on board noticed it. They had just exited slipspace.

      The Spartans proceeded to the bridge as ordered. The Odin was of intelligent design, as they had to go to center of the vessel to get to the Captain. The UNSC had lost too many ships from Covenant gunners shooting into the bridges. Most human bridges were under very little protection or were directly exposed to space. Should a tiny hole be formed in their viewing windows the ship would be without its command crew. The turbo lift stopped on the bridge deck and the Spartans exited. The bridge was down the hall a few meters and about of squad of ODSTs guarded it with MA8A's. The Spartans stopped in front of them.

      " Please remove all firearms and explosives on you. " a guard said stepping forward. They complied and removed all weapons on them. The guards were a bit shocked by how much was on them. Four MA8As, an S2 AM, two M7Cs, seven M6Ds, 35 grenades, and about 5,000 rounds of ammunition. The guard looked at the pile and then again at the Spartans. " Proceed. " They did so and made their way to the Captain.

      The bridge was in the shape of an octagon. In the center there was a lowered section in the same shape with the part of the bridge crew. The walls were covered with monitors, screens, and a bridge crew of twenty working hard. The Captain's chair was seated towards the other end in front of three larger screens and a holoprojector. The Chief saw him and stepped forward giving a salute.

      " Reporting as requested sir. " the Chief said. Captain Mortensen returned his salute and hit a keypad on his chair. The three screens in front of him snapped to life. One was of the binary star system they were in, another had the locations of the other eight ships, and their objective. A gas giant roughly the size of Saturn hovered in space with six moons. Swirls of blue and red gases made up the large planet. A much smaller object could be seen faintly among the moons.

      " Glad you could make it Spartans. I want you to meet someone. " Captain Mortensen said. The Spartans looked around for this someone that the Captain wanted them to meet.

      " Well if it isn't the famous Spartans. " a cold voice said from nowhere. The Chief looked over to the holoprojector and a small figure was there. It looked like an angel, but with blood red wings, a black cloak, and two cold blue eyes hidden within the head section of the cloak. On the belt of the hologram was a silver Longsword.

      " Who is this Captain? " the Master Chief asked.

      " It's the Odin's smart AI Shiri-Gami. He's our ship weapon's specialist and main systems hacker next to Cortana. Just created a month ago. " Mortensen replied. " I wanted you to meet him ahead of time in case you run across him again. " The Chief thought this over for a moment. Shiri-Gami was a smart AI, which meant he was as capable as Cortana in many ways. Having two A.I.'s like this would prove handy in any combat that was to follow.

      " Speaking of A.I.'s sir, where is Cortana? " he asked.

      " She's just finished sorting herself out for a hard transfer and is preparing a few battle plans for the potential ground engagements ahead of us. " the AI said. " Now if you don't mind Captain I would appreciate getting back on schedule. Admiral Stanforth has shipped a list of things for me to do for the next hour. "

      " Very well Shiri-Gami. I no longer need you to be slowed down for us. " Captain Mortensen said slightly waving his hand away to the AI the red wings folded inward and wrapped around the A.I. A small flash of light and then it was gone. " We are currently in a far orbit of the gas giant and are waiting for the rest of the ships to get to the rally point. Only the Leviathan and Michigan are in orbit with us. The rest of the battle group is expected to be here in approximately thirty minutes. We can begin the invasion then. "

      " Is that all sir? " the Chief asked. When he had finished his question an alarm blared and the bridge lights turned from white to red. Shiri-Gami reappeared and the tactical displays in front of the Captain snapped to radar and ship's status.

      " What the hell is going on here?! " the Captain demanded. On the main view screen the gas giant was shown and a dozen Covenant ships, frigates mostly, came into view. " Damn it. " He reached for his comms device and activated it. " Attention! All men man your stations. Covenant contact imminent! I repeat man your stations. Imminent Covenant contact. " He turned to Lieutenant Shidou at Tactical/Comms. " Shidou activate the Cole Protocol. Wipe everything. We still got other worlds to protect. " The female officer quickly did as told and triple checked to make sure all back ups were neutralized.

      " Sir incoming secured transmission from the Leviathan. " she said after completing her task.

      " Pipe it through the main channel. Taylor get those MAC guns charging! Medium rounds only! Arm Archer missile pods A1-A6! Zaurak bring the engines back online and push them to ninety percent! " Mortensen ordered. The crewmen went to their duties immediately. The alarms went off, but the light in the room was still dim. The Admiral's voice could be heard through the bridge clearly.

      " Stanforth to all ships. Engage the Covenant vessels at will. Launch all dropships and fighters. Get those men down on the surface of that ring. We need to make this invasion as big of a success as possible. Stanforth out. " The bridge crew was silent as they did their orders. The Captain rubbed his forehead with a sweating palm. They knew why. A dozen ships against three was ridiculous, even if they were two cruisers and a destroyer.

      " Sir requesting permission to take Cortana onto the surface. " the Chief said stepping forward. The Captain looked to the armored Spartan puzzled.

      " How could you possibly use her without the proper equipment? " he inquired.

      " The suits sir. Just give me her memory processing matrix cube and anyone of us can use her. " the Chief replied. The Captain nodded and agreed with the Chief.

      " Cortana, " he said, " You are being transferred to the Chief until this is all over. "

      " Understood Captain. " she said from the computer. He got up and walked to the forward terminal. A series of keys were pushed and her module slid out of the computer. He handed it to the Chief and watched as it was put into one of the armor's head slots. The Master Chief felt the cold rush of Cortana melding with his mind and felt like he was whole again.

      " Get to Launch Bay 3. Your dropship is there. If all goes well, I'll see you on the surface. Good luck. " They left the bridge. The number of guards had doubled since the alarms went off. Crew and marines ran around frantically to get to their stations as quickly as possible. When the Spartans were out the doors slid shut and they gathered their weapons outside.

      " Let's get out of here. " the Chief said turning for the turbo lift. They entered ready for combat. They weren't the only ones on the lift though. About twenty unarmed marines got on and went down three decks to deck 8. Everyone exited and followed the signs leading to the launch bay. When they made it in several of the dropships had already lifted off and were moving into their respective air locks. The Chief looked for a dropship and overheard a nearby conversation between a pilot and a marine.

      " You ground pounders just don't get it do you?! I have specific orders to allow the Spartans on here first. If there is any room left then some other can get on board, but unless there is no one else gets on this dropship! " Lieutenant Marner screamed. The Chief walked over behind the marine that was preparing to hit the pilot. The man's fist went back and was caught in the elbow as the strike went forward. The man's fist stopped just an inch from Marner's face.

      " There's room for you and your squad. No need for violence just yet sergeant. " the Chief said. The man turned around and his jaw dropped. The Chief was two heads larger than him and much more intimidating than that. His fist uncurled and he nearly fell. " Now get on board. The Captain has ordered us to hurry. " The marine nodded and Marner jumped back into the dropship. The twelve of them got on board and the cargo bay door to the dropship was closed. They entered their airlock and awaited departure.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      " Sir MAC guns are at one hundred percent and Archer missile pods are armed. Which target first sir? " Junior Lieutenant Taylor asked.

      " Target the ship furthest to port. After that ship is down pick your targets. One ship at a time though. " Mortensen replied. They watched as two blazing white eyes went across the fabric of space and were followed closely by dozens of white streaks lead by yellow fireballs. The Covenant ships began to turn to starboard and revealed their lateral lines. Plasma weapons were charging for a few seconds and then they burned across space.

      " Sir twenty seconds till first salvo impact. Thirty seconds until plasma reaches us and the others. " Lt. Zaurak said compensating to avoid the bolts. They watched as the two lines raced for each other's targets. The first of the MAC gun rounds hit the Covenant frigate and shuddered the ships shields. They blazed white-hot and went out when the second MAC round hit. The entire port side was dented in and tiny fires started along the ship's edge.

      The missiles were close behind and were being shot down left and right. Only a third of them made it through. Tiny blossoms of fire detonated along the ship and tore away at sections of the hull. A few made it in and caused some serious damage near the engines. The ship's lights went out and the engines failed. No plasma weapons recharged and the craft floated away in space. However the plasma it had let out hit its target. The Odin was hit around deck 17 by one of the two bolts. The two meters of titanium armor glowed white hot and slowly melted away. Minimal damage had occurred to the ship.

      " Gordon how long until the rest of the battle group makes it here? " Mortensen asked.

      " Sir ETA is ten minutes. They're having their own troubles. " Gordon replied. Mortensen silently cursed and watched as the Leviathan launched another salvo. The heavy rounds and excessive amount of missiles used pummeled the two frigates it had engaged with. He continued to watch and felt the ship shudder as two more MAC rounds went off followed by several Archer missiles. He looked at the tactical display and noticed that the Michigan was not on the scopes. He almost panicked until he saw them on screen. They were just too far out from the normal scanners.

      The ship was moving in from afar, just outside of the standard plasma weapons' range. A tiny light was seen coming from the craft followed by a large bright light and a dozen white streaks. They all headed for the center of the Covenant battle group.

      " Take advantage of this. We can only do once more people. " Griffes said over the radio. Mortensen turned and saw what had happened. The center frigate was hit and the missiles scattered out in multiple directions hitting the craft on both port and starboard sides. A sudden bright blue flash had occurred. If the monitors hadn't adjusted in time they would have gone blind. The four ships had been vaporized while the others simply lost their shields and suffered minimal damage. The Covenant began to charge up their weapons for another salvo. They accelerated towards the three human ships and were gaining at top speed.

      " Fire Archer missile pods C1-D2 at all targets! Full spread! Bring the MAC guns back up Taylor! " Mortensen ordered hitting his fist on the arm of his chair. The crewman jumped as though shocked. His fingers danced across the keypad and the weapons were fired a moment later. The Covenant didn't know what had hit them. The MAC guns and missiles from the Odin and Leviathan had destroyed all but two of the ships. Still though some of the plasma had gotten through. It impacted and the three UNSC ships were damaged. Armor plating flew free from the ships and glowed red hot cooling shortly there after.

      The other two Covenant ships began to retreat slowly. The Michigan however would not let them do that. They fired another salvo of missiles and a MAC round. The missiles impacted and set the engines of the lead ship into a critical state. The ship shuddered for a moment and went up in a billion smaller fragments. The blast was enough to tear a hole into the nose of the ship behind it. The final Covenant vessel slowly floated off and drifted dead into space. Captain Mortensen eased up from his tense state and slouched in his chair letting out a long sigh. They had gotten lucky.

      " Shidou give me a damage report. " he said sitting upright in his chair.

      " We've lost armored sections 1 and 2 on aft deck 17 and section 1 on port deck 2. Minimal casualties. Engines are fine, but Archer missile pod D1 did not launch. Weapons crew is dealing with the problem as we speak. Two percent of electronics have been burned out from EMP by the nuclear blast set off by the Michigan. No need to worry, nothing of importance. " She stopped for a moment and looked at the other casualty list that scrolled across her screen. " However we lost the frigates Pioneer and Net Force. Lifeboats have been launched. The destroyer Rayearth has also suffered extreme damage, but she can move and shoot. Just a slug's pace. "

      A third of them had already been wiped out and not even a day into the operation. The Captain was having second thoughts about the risk.

      " How many other Covenant vessels are in system? " he asked.

      " I'm getting approximately two hundred signals within the ring's atmosphere and the third moon only. They are keeping in their spots. " Shidou replied. Mortensen's blood ran cold from the numbers. Shiri-Gami gave her some new information. " If I'm getting this right they've only been here a few more hours than we have. No more than four maybe five or at least that's what Shiri-Gami is saying. "

      " Good. One thing slightly tipped in our favor. Don't need them to have been down there for days knowing their way around. God only knows what they'll find. " Mortensen said. " Zaurak give control to the AI we're going on patrol. Time to see what we can see. "