Posted By: kr142616<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 7 June 2007, 11:30 pm
Private Pete O'Brian was scared; very scared. He'd been separated from his platoon for hours, and they probably had finished their mission and been evaced hours ago. They would be long-gone, leaving O'Brian alone in the enemy-filled forest. O'Brian didn't know what to do, so he did the only sensible thing he could think of: he ran.
He moved through the brush not quite silently, but he was camouflaged enough that he might have been mistaken for an animal. He gripped his rifle white-knuckled. Damn, he wished he had his helmet. He'd lost it before he'd been separated from his platoon. It had all his COM and nightvision equipment in it, but he hadn't worried. His buddies had all had theirs. But he was going to need both soon. It would get dark within an hour.
O'Brian hadn't joined the corps for this. He joined to go to college. He was a smart kid, but from a poor family. He'd wanted to be a biologist. He'd wanted to visit the Colonies, too, especially Eden. The nature preserve had always seemed like a nice place to visit. But then the aliens, the Covenant, had attacked. Now, O'Brian was on the front lines, and Eden and so many other worlds were gone.
But the worst part was, he still had four more years. Private O'Brian hated being a soldier. Being lost in these damned woods certainly didn't improve his opinion of it.
I'm gonna die, he thought. I'm gonna die, the aliens are gonna kill me, and I'm never gonna see my friends, never go home. His sergeant would've said the battlefield was his home. Right now, he couldn't give a damn what his sergeant would say. It wasn't like he'd see him again.
O'Brian jumped, and spun his rifle towards the sound. There was nothing there.
The voice spoke again. "Up here, soldier," it said.
He looked up, only to see a hulking green mass fall silently before him.
"Who are you, soldier?" it asked.
"Private Peter O'Brian, sir," he responded automatically. He couldn't believe it. A Spartan! A gift from God, if there was one.
The green-armored figure looked at him, and nodded. It was evaluating him, he could tell. He didn't know how he knew, behind its mirrored visor, but he did.
"What happened to your platoon?" it asked. It sounded like a male, but O'Brian was tentative to think of it as one when he couldn't see its face.
"I got separated from them, sir. I lost my COM gear, and I've been out here for hours. They'll be long-gone by now, sir."
The Spartan nodded again, and gave him another evaluating look. "Follow me," it said abruptly, and moved off through the woods. O'Brian did as ordered and trotted after it. A Spartan. He just might live through the night.
They walked through the forest in silence. After a half-hour, O'Brian's hope began to diminish. A Spartan was the best of the best. It would be on a mission too dangerous for normal troops, and would drag him into it. And it didn't talk, or slow, or stumble. It was like a machine. He couldn't even hear it breathe.
Finally, O'Brian worked up the nerve to break the silence. "Where are you taking me?"
It looked at him. "To my camp."
O'Brian nodded numbly instead of saying anything. They continued to walk on, and O'Brian's fear began to return.
Ten minutes later, the Spartan raised its hand. "Down," it said, crouching and unslinging its rifle in one smooth movement. The fear was back in full force.
Through the woods he could hear rustling and yapping. They must've run across an alien patrol. O'Brian thought he could see their brightly-colored armor through the trees. It almost reminded him of the Spartan's own armor.
"Do you have a silencer?" the Spartan asked. He nodded, pulling one from a pouch on his chest.
"Good. You'll know when to shoot," it said. With that, the Spartan dashed away into the woods.
O'Brian screwed the silencer onto his rifle, the action coming automatically, as so many had tonight.
It was so alien, he thought. As alien as the things it's going to kill. Shaking his head, O'Brian crouched down, and waited, brushing his dark and too-long hair out of his eyes.
The woods were silent except for the Grunts. They were coming towards him. He raised his rifle, aiming, but he didn't fire. The Spartan had said he'd know when to shoot.
Then, he saw the Spartan drop from the trees, quickly and silently. He saw it move, and two aliens fell without a sound. It raised its pistol, and continued its grim work.
O'Brian jumped up and fired, the instincts drilled into him kicking in. In moments, it was done.
"Wow," the marine said, walking to the Spartan and examining the aftermath of their ambush. "That was impressive, sir."
It nodded. Then, it abruptly shoved O'Brian down. The marine covered his head, and heard two plasma pistols discharge. He got up and saw two aliens, and the Spartan standing weaponless, out of range. Quickly, he dispatched the aliens before they could hit the Spartan again.
O'Brian watched as he ripped off his helmet, the seal hissing as it was broken. O'Brian was sure it was a male now, with short blonde hair and a ghost-pale face.
"Are you okay, sir?" the marine said, rushing over. He was amazed the man was still moving. That shot would have killed O'Brian.
The Spartan gasped for breath. "It's hot, that's all," the Spartan said. He smiled. "Thank you, marine."
O'Brian smiled in turn. "No problem, sir."
Looking at the scarred, pale face and plasma burns on his armor, O'Brian realized he was just as human as he was. Another soldier, too. A brother.
Just as a note, Eden is a reference to a story I never got around to finishing. It was a biological reserve that was glassed by the Covenant.