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Halo: The Scythe of Death Part Five
Posted By: LordofDestruction<Exwing4123@aol.com>
Date: 5 July 2003, 4:22 PM

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Halo: The Scythe of Death Part Five
Location: Vega Prime Local Space
Date: April 14th, 2578 Military Calendar, 18:15 Zulu Time

"The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops." Sun Tzu—The Art of War

      Captain Nimitz said to the AI Lee, "Reload Longbow missile pods, tell engineering to bring the auxiliary shaft online. What is the status on the MAC guns?"
      Lee replied, "Forty-nine percent, charging at thirty-five percent per minute."
      Another salvo of Super MAC rounds flew by the fleet, striking out twenty enemy vessels. However, eighty percent of the dropships heading to the planet's surface were getting through, there just wasn't enough firepower to fight them and the enemy battle fleet. Nimitz said, "Lock in firing solution on target DCSS-023A for four MAC rounds and twelve Lancer torpedoes, and tell the Princeton to do the same."
      "Aye-aye, sir" said Lee. Five seconds later, the ship rocked as one hundred thousand tons of metal left the ship. The MAC rounds hurtled towards the dreadnought at an alarming pace, followed by the plasma torpedoes. The Princeton's MAC rounds quickly followed suit. The first four MAC rounds tore through the dreadnoughts shields, and tore through the vessel from starboard to port, tearing apart electrical systems and spacing many unfortunate crewmembers. The next four rounds ripped through her from bow to stern, gutting the ship and nearly killing the command crew. Just as they thought it was over, two-dozen plasma torpedoes detonated inside the vessel, tearing it apart amidships. An anti-climactic nuclear fireball followed suit, obliterating what was left of the hapless vessel. The Angel of Death and the Princeton retreated from the front line to recharge their shields and reload their weapons as fresh ships charged into the melee. Several UNSC cruisers exploded into fiery suns of energy, weakening the front of the battle fleet. Sabre and Katana fighters fought desperately to even the disparity in numbers, taking out several capital ships and scores of enemy fighters by this point of the battle. At any given time, several ships were exploding into nuclear fireballs, littering the battlefield with debris.


      Patton said to his company, "Alright, lets keep it up, we can't afford to let them get to the city." He then directed his gunner to a dropship about to land, and told him, "Put a round straight into his fuel cells."
      The gunner directed the gun to do that through his neural interface, and fired an APFSDSDU round into the fuel cell. The round completely penetrated the fuel cell, setting it a light, causing the dropship to brew up into an orange-red blossom of flame. The dropship exploded, littering wreckage over the battlefield. Several other dropships died to the crack of 280mm howitzers, spreading lethal shrapnel over the battlefield. A Dragon beside Patton's took two plasma bolts and exploded into plasma fire. The crew, however, emerged intact, and sheltered behind their crippled tank. Several other tanks were knocked out, killing some of the crews, but another lethal salvo of APFSDSDU penetrators answered that, killing fourteen other tanks. Elsewhere, the rest of the division had scored similar losses on the Covenant. 280mms rained napalm rounds over the battlefield, killing entire platoons of enemy soldiers. All through the battlefield, flaming Covenant soldiers ran around in a desperate attempt to extinguish themselves. But, they came in such numbers that they were able to begin charging towards the 1756th. Armored personnel carriers fired their chain guns into the advancing Covenant troops. Patton directed his gunner to a new target, a command variant Spectre, and said, "Kill that bastard!"
      The gunner trained the gun on the target, and fired a round at it. The penetrator struck the Spectre straight in its glacis plate, and lifted it up off of the ground, spewing gouts of flame from its sides. The tank landed upside down, dead as a doornail. What amazed Patton was that they just kept coming into a hot LZ, a quite bonehead maneuver. The battle had only raged five minutes, but close to a hundred thousand Covenant soldiers we're dead, all responsible by forty thousand Marines. However, the 1756th began to take losses at an alarming rate. They we're going to lose the city unless the fleet could spare some fighters to strafe the landing zone. Then Patton thought, and said to Major General O'Hara, the divisions commanding officer, "Have one of the 280mms fire a nuclear shell into the LZ, there are about two hundred thousand troops on the ground. Oh, and tell the men to duck!"
      O'Hara chuckled and said, "Good thinking." The division ceased firing as a lone 280mm fired a nuclear shell into the center of the LZ.
      The shell arched flew over the valley, coming down into the center of the LZ. The shell detonated one hundred meters over the savannah, spreading nuclear death over the battlefield.


      Covenant Grand Field Master Laeko 'Intrampkatue was riding in the cockpit of a dropship down to the LZ found the fact that the human emplacements ceased firing quite odd. His suspicions were confirmed when he saw a red-orange nuclear flower blossom from the valley floor. At first he was overwhelmed the shock of the event, and slowly panic seeped in. "What would the Prophets think of this disaster! They'll surely have my head if I don not win this battle!" he thought. The nuclear orb mushroomed skyward as he thought of that. The human nukes were not very radiation intensive, but they still could not linger on the LZ, as it would be flooded with radiation. Things were not going very well.


      The beauty of the nuclear mushroom cloud awed Patton, it was so unearthly. But of course this wasn't Earth, so that could be expected. He checked the division's casualty reports, and was alarmed to see that it was down to half effective strength. He saw new dropships bringing fresh troops down onto the field, and was about to despair when a dozen contrails appeared in the air, striking down half a dozen heavily laden dropships. Each one could carry four tanks and two platoons of infantry, which meant an entire battalion was down. He saw the Longswords that launched the missiles, and immediately identified them as Air National Guard planes, as the Longsword had been wasted out of frontline service. Additional contrails appeared, resulting in more downed dropships. Finally, they had air support.
      However, the dropships began to touch down on the ash-covered battlefield, disgorging thousands of troops. Patton directed his gunner to a Spectre tank, which had begun hammering his company's position. The gunner fired the seventy-kilogram penetrator straight into the tanks fuel cell, causing it to brew up into flames as it flipped end over end by the shear kinetic energy of the shot. The Longswords swung around and began dropping napalm on the freshly deployed soldiers, setting them ablaze like so many matchsticks. 280mms tore apart landing dropships and infantry platoons by the dozens. Hundreds of plasma shots flew up on the emplaced tanks and artillery batteries, knocking several out. The surviving Covenant infantry and armor began a rapid charge to take the plateau, in order to lighten the load on the LZ, but many were cut down by accurate artillery fire.


      The Angel of Death's MAC capacitors were at full capacity now, and her Longbow missile pods completely reloaded. She surged forward into the battle, ready to score a few kills.
      Captain Nimitz said to Lee, "Lock firing solutions for four MAC rounds and four hundred Longbow missile pods at target CCS-391B. Slave the Katana interceptor's targeting computer to the ship's fire control."
      The AI's holographic representation lifted his sabre and said to the Captain, "Yes sir!" and went to work.
      The ship's four Magnetic Accelerator Cannons strobed once each, hurling four super-heated spheres of depleted uranium into the cold vastness of space. The ship rocked as four hundred Longbow missile pods left the ship's sides. The MAC rounds hit first, as always, tearing deep into the enemy ship's superstructure, and exiting out the far side. The Longbow missiles tore apart the open wounds, leaving the vessel nothing more than floating debris. Interceptor-launched anti-ship missiles tore into the stricken vessel, finishing what was left of her.
      Nimitz said, "Helm, come right eighty degrees, increase to two-thirds."
      The executive officer relayed the orders, saying, "New bearing two-four-five, right standard rudder, full ahead two-thirds." The ship banked swiftly to starboard, bringing it perpendicular with the enemy fleet's course. The 50mm chain guns lit up, actively engaging any enemy fighter that came to close the ship.
      "Inform the fleet of a nuclear launch at the following coordinates-" Said Nimitz
      The communications officer nodded and said over the comm, "Transmitting nuclear target data. Be advised, stay clear of following coordinates."
      Lee smiled as the Captain nodded to him, and launch a Titan straight for the heart of the enemy fleet. Ten other such nukes followed, sending seventy-seven 1.1 megaton warheads into the enemy's heart. The whole universe seemed to hold still as they detonated one by one in a clearing pattern. Within five seconds of the first detonation there were seventy-seven thermonuclear fireballs in the center of the enemy fleet. The combined heat blast and shock wave destroyed close to a hundred vessels and crippled another forty. Luckily for the Covenant, all of the major ground combat units were already on the ground, or on their way there.


      Patton saw a plasma bolt heading for his tank just before the computer recorded it, and quickly got the driver to move the tank out of harms way. That bolt could have done serious damage to his tank if he had not intervened. The gunner had already found the assailant and put a penetrator straight in his face. The autoloader grabbed a fresh magazine and loaded it into position. So far they had gone through two ten-round magazines, killing eighteen tanks and a dropship. The tank carried ten such magazines, now down to eight. The Longswords came around for another pass, dropping napalm and fragmentation bombs on the LZ, killing thousands more Covenant. Patton could see thousands of charred bodies on the valley floor, strewn out like burnt matchsticks. He directed the gunner to a Spectre that had just shelled one of his tanks, killing it. The gunner mentally trained the gun on the target, his mind at one with the computer, and fired. The round grazed the top of the tank, which was just under five kilometers down range, tearing the armor clean off of the top of the tank, sending lethal shrapnel into its helpless crew.
      He said to his platoon leaders, "Okay, we've got them locked down, and air support should be able to keep it that way. Keep up the good work." His company still had twenty-three tanks and seventeen armored personnel carriers, much better than any of the other companies in the 1756th. Patton stood up in his cupola, and seeing the advancing infantry, grabbed the cupola's 14.5mm machine gun, using the same round as the S2 AM sniper rifle, and began suppressive fire. White contrails began tearing through the advancing infantry, keep a little heat off of the supporting infantry. The only thing Patton could think of was, "Oh shit!"


      Captain Nimitz ordered, "Increase to flank, lock firing solutions on target CCS-018A for seven hundred Longbow missile pods and one MAC round."
      The XO, Commander Joshua J. Perry, relayed the orders to the bridge crew, following standard naval doctrine, "Full ahead Flank, input targeting solution on CCS-018A, seven hundred Longbows and one MAC. Set half safety."
      The ship shuddered from bow to stern as the Longbow missile pods left there launch tubes, inspiring terror in a few hapless crewmen. The Longbows had no sooner left their launch tubes when the single MAC round left the port Magnetic Accelerator Cannon. The MAC round hit first, tearing a hole straight through the cruiser, already damaged by the nuclear barrage that they had taken earlier. The Longbows tore the ship apart, leaving gaping holes from bow to stern, causing the vessel to list to starboard. Countless thousands of Covenant crewmembers were spaced by this action, creating much grief through out the Covenant fleet.

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