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Halo: The Scythe of Death Part Eight
Posted By: LordofDestruction<Exwing4123@aol.com>
Date: 25 February 2004, 4:37 AM

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Halo: The Scythe of Death Part Eight
Location: Fort Abrams, Vega Prime liberated Colony
Date: April 16th, 2578 Military Calendar, 19:15 Zulu Time

      Lieutenant Colonel Michael Patton sat in his chair, watching his soldiers finish maintenance on their vehicles, and reviewing the battle plan for the day after tomorrow. He picked up his laptop and began reviewing the area, looking for the best ambush and tank killing sectors, especially those in his deployment zone. Most of the battle would be taking place in a large redwood forest, with some of the trees over three hundred meters tall. He spotted a large and rotting tipped over redwood, behind which a tank could get a nice hull-down firing position, which, by using the tanks hydropneumatic suspension, could be a turret down observation position. He 'claimed' the area for his tank, then moved the 3d map around, looking for other difficult obstacles.
      Most other officers were looking for tank and infantry fire positions at this time, also. Knowing the terrain would be crucial to a victory. Such had been true for millennia and would not change anytime soon.


      Captain Nimitz watched in awe as two hundred-fifty Armored Landing Craft, each carrying an entire battalion of ground troops disgorged from the supercarrier Hastings, escorted by an entire CAW of the vessel, amounting to four hundred interceptors and three hundred fighters, armed for dirt busting. The carrier was a massive eight km long and massed at twenty million tons, twice the mass of his cruiser and half again as massive as the enormous Warhawk-class battleships. The four destroyers assigned to it held station at precisely five hundred km. The super dreadnought Decree of Annihilation sped ahead into a geo-synchronous orbit over Vega Prime. She was a strange vessel, being designed like a Covenant vessel, with fluid, organic lines and a shark-like, predatory shape. She paused over the LI Corps drop zone, and charged her pulse-lasers and OBC-s, and opened fire on a Covenant position, annihilating any thing within thirty kilometers of the LZ. Scores of her fighters streamed out in all directions, heading to destroy troop supply stations, bridges, command posts and prefab bunkers that had been set up by the Covenant the previous day.
      Nimitz's own Angel of Death had a far different mission, reconnaissance.
Since the Covenant had destroyed the Remotes Sensor outposts on their way in-system, they need to send ships out to probe the system edge to spot for danger. His ship was one of the few undamaged ones capable of a pinpoint slipspace jump.
      He to his AI, Death, "Set pinpoint jump coordinates for the edge of system, and make the Covenant see us do this. We'll draw off a couple, and take them out in stealth mode."
      He replied, a pair of red eyes suddenly glowing under his cloak, "Gotcha. May I suggest you bring the secondary reactors online, to boost our reactor output by eighty percent?"
      He replied, "Yes, and prepare all fighter squadrons for launch."
      The AI cackled a short laugh, then said, "They'll never know what hit them."


      Six hours later, the entire LXII Corps had moved across the Isen River. Eight divisions in total, with three hundred-twenty thousand soldiers, and around fifty thousand tanks, they had to stop a Covenant force of two million soldiers, a daunting task when the odds are evened out. Patton guided his Dragon into its firing position, behind a fallen Redwood. He and the crew jumped out, and they set up a camouflage net over the tank to mask its position. The 'net' not only protected the tank visually, it masked what little thermal signature it had left. Patton then climbed up on the fallen Redwood, and pulled out his field glasses. He scanned the crimson horizon. He could clearly see the river, and the Covenant advance guards setting up pontoon bridges to cross the river. It didn't matter. They held the higher ground. Four of the divisions were on the front line, with the other divisions in tactical reserve. He turned to his gunner and said, "Unload the LOSAT (Line Of Sight Anti-Tank weapon), and get it set up by that tree. We may need to use it. Hand me a battle rifle and ammo."
      Command Sergeant Major Stephen Downes replied, "Gotcha. Anything else?"
      He handed Patton the battle rifle. Patton thought for a moment, then said, "Have the rest of the battalion set up their LOSATs." Patton grabbed Downes's hand and squeezed firmly, then said, "Give them hell."
      He chuckled and replied, "You can count on that." He took out a small gun cleaning cloth and polished his Spartan insignia on his MJOLNIR armor. An eagle with a lighting bolt in one set of talons, and three arrows in the other, it represented what they were, fast, deadly and ready to strike.
      They got back in their tank and readied to fight. Elsewhere, the rest of the Corps set up to give the Covenant a beating they wouldn't soon forget.
      He adjusted the tank's hydropneumatic suspension system to move the turret up from behind the redwood, and began designating targets for his tank. The Covenant had moved about six divisions across by now, and were about ready to advance. They were still about ten km away, about fifteen minutes away from their engagement range. They all sat there tensely awaiting the Covenant to fall into their trap. Patton's MJOLNIR armor AI, Draco, began monitoring the Covenant battlenet, then said to Patton in his characteristically deep voice, "They appear to be unaware of our position, and of my infiltration into their communication networks. I can send a virus at the appropriate time that will shut down all of their communications devices. However, its effects will only last for about fifteen minutes before it is rooted out be their counter-intrusion software. I have also tasked six squadrons of fighters and interceptors to this area to help with holding them in this area."
      Patton sighed, the replied, "Good job. Prepare a signal to get all the units to fire simultaneously the moment they cross the engagement line."
      Draco paused for a millisecond, then said, "Done. I am coordinating my efforts with all of the other AI in the unit. I believe we have just improved our chance of victory by twenty-two-point-zero-six-one-seven percent. However, the human factor in this equation makes calculations maddeningly inaccurate."
      Patton replied, "At least we don't have to fight them on their terms. Thanks for all the help. See if you can decipher their encryption sequence on their priority level transmissions. Once again, coordinate with all the other AI in the area."
      Draco cackled, then said with an egotistical tone, "Counter-intrusion software might as well be a food nipple supply logistics program."
      Patton frowned, "Once again Draco, your humor escapes me. Just don't give anyone the lovebug virus."
      Draco changed to a serious tone, "And I suppose you thought that was funny? Anyway, I'll get right on it. I estimate it will take three minutes and forty-two-point-one-six-three seconds to get in." Draco then was silent, though he didn't completely disappear from Michael's mind. He still was 'in' his brain, and he could still feel his presence, and strangely, exactly what he was doing. His brain couldn't show him all of the techno babble, but it could still show him the highlights of what he was doing.


      Thirteen minutes later, the Covenant units were just about to reach the engagement line. The entire force waited tensely as the few seconds until all hell broke loose slowly ticked away, seeming more like hours than seconds. Sergeant Major Downes lined the Dragon tank's MAR up on to the first Spectre in his engagement pattern. They all heard Lieutenant General Zhukov say at precisely 22:00 hours, "Fire at will." His words echoed into eternity as thousands of tanks and IFVs opened fire on the Covenant forces. Patton's tank hit a Spectre Mk. II at three thousand meters. Its shields flashed, then collapsed, allowing the round to strike the armored hull of the Spectre. The incandescent depleted uranium/osmium round tore through the Spectre's front armor, sending hundreds of white-hot armor fragments into its interior. The rest of the front of the armored hull rippled, then shattered under the tremendous force of the impact, spewing out gouts of molten metal and fractured armor shards. Downes immediately shifted fire to a second Spectre, its entire right side sheared off by the one hundred forty kg long rod penetrator. Mobile 280mm MARs fired hundreds of shard, fragmentation and napalm rounds over the battlefield, covering it with a blanket of armor piercing shards, metal fragments and red-orange fire. The Covenant returned fire as a third salvo of 152.2mm long rod rounds tore into their lines. They quickly became confused, and due to the lack of communication caused by Draco and the other AI in the area, began firing off into the distance, or even at each other. A fourth salvo of long rod rounds over the seven hundred km front sent thousands of tank and IFV crews to their demise.
      White contrails appeared in the sky above, as Air Cavalry Kukri ground attack fighters and ship based Sabre space dominance fighters fired salvoes of air to ground munitions. A fifth salvo of tank fire shattered hundreds of more Covenant vehicles on the battlefield. Covenant Infantry Fighting Vehicles stopped and disgorged their soldiers, and they raced up the battlefield on foot, in order to avoid being turned into mincemeat by the lethal salvoes of tank fire. This was answered by a volley of fragmentation and napalm fire by the 280mms, sending thousands to an early grave. The surviving tanks raced as fast as they could towards the human positions, in order to mitigate their long-range advantage. Sergeant Major Downes spotted one of the leaders quickly, and lined his weapon up on him. The tank shuddered as the round left the magnetic accelerator barrel. The hypersonic, incandescent round struck the Spectre's shield. Its shields flickered, then died, allowing the round to punch through the tank, rippling and shattering its armor, and sending fountains of plasma and white-hot armor shards out of its back, killing a few unlucky Grunts standing behind the Spectre. Another Spectre was turned almost inside out from the force of another well-aimed long rod penetrator. The Covenant just got their act together, and then began firing back at their position furiously. Most of the plasma bolts explodes in the redwoods nearby their targets, rather than hitting them. A seventh volley of MAR rounds lanced down the hillside, destroying anything in their path. Napalm, shard and frag rounds from the 280mms killed thousands more each volley, shredding or immolating their unfortunate bodies. Their counter-fire volleys, however, began to intensify, making this already hectic place even more insane. It had become literally hell.

To be continued in: Halo: The Scythe of Death Part Nine