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Countdown Earth: Hour Seven
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 23 October 2003, 2:20 AM

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E.S.N. Capital Building

      "Relinoir, you know what the Nautilus can do, why on Earth would you want to fire it?"

      "I don't know if you haven't been paying attention Steven, but we're having our asses handed to us out there. I'm not saying fire it now, I'm saying have it ready in case it's too late. If we can't hold out til the sixth and ninth fleets get here, then we have to fire it. Otherwise they win. Do you understand that? They win. They capture Earth, they kill the humans, they glass the planet, they win."

      "I have to be the one to give you authorization, I'm a third of the Nautilus launch protocol. And, as of now, I don't see a prominent enough reason to activate the system. If such time should arise, then I will give you the go ahead. But not a moment sooner."

      "And if they overrun E.S.N? Then what, nobody can fire the system then. If we don't activate it now, there might not be another chance."

      "That's a risk I'm more than willing to take Greg. The Covenant are still being held back on several successive fronts, we're giving them the fight of their lives. If they want Earth, they can come and get it for their own damn selves."

      "Steve, I hope to god you know what you're talking about, I really do. For Earth's sake." Relinoir's picture winked black on both Taki and Trotson's monitors. Trotson turned to face the camera linking him with Master Sergeant Taki.

      "Taki, do you think I'm in the wrong? For not activating it now."

      "I'm not sure sir, I don't think anyone can be. No one will blame you if you make the wrong decision sir, as they will all be dead, or have no idea it ever existed. However, may I make a suggestion?"

      "Go ahead Taki, you know you can."

      "If you gave me the launch codes, then if anything should happen to either you or Relinoir, I would be able to manually insert them into the E.S.N. mainframe, and fire her. It would be our ultimate last resort solution." Trotson was caught off guard by the strange request. What was Taki up to, asking for such priviliged information.

      "Not until the time comes. If the outlook becomes bleak, then I'll give the project the go ahead."

      "Yes sir, I'll be awaiting your next updates."

      "Roger that Taki, keep me, us, informed."

      The Trotson turned away from Taki, and fiddled with something offscreen. His screen flickered several times before being overcome with black. Taki relaxed in his chair, putting his hands behind his head and swiveling to survey the ongoing battles.

      He watched the remaining satellite feeds as they came in, a global battle at his fingertips, every moment recorded on disk for future reference. That was, if there was going to be a future.

      The aerial view of New York was astounding. He watched as blue and white flashes streaked across streets, alleys, and every possible promenade. It was a surreal experience, to watch helplessly as your planet fights for it's life. He zoomed the feed in on a small group of marines huddled under an overpass, a covenant convoy passing on the bridge overhead.

New York, New York
43rd Street Overpass

      "Collins, get your ass up that slope double-time." Command Sergeant Major Razkael barked. His few remaining men scrambled wildly up the rocky ledge, clawing frantically at their only support, a thin wire fence. Razkael shoved his palm into Collins' butt, quickly pushing the man onto the pavement above. Razkael pulled himself up and rolled on top of Collins just in time. The explosive charges the group had placed on the bridge went off with a fury, sending debris and shrapnel pummeling the spot he had just been dangling.

      The two marines faced the bridge as the fireball flamed into the sky. The reinforced concrete beams that supported the crossing gave way under the force, a mortal wound to the bridge. Several enormous Covenant troop carriers, Ghosts, Shadows, and equipment vehicles plunged into the chaos without a moment to rethink their tragic mistake.

      They erupted in a small chain-reaction of explosions, even further destroying the bridge. It was now no more than a hulking mess of metal beams and concrete dust. The Covenant convoy on both sides of the explosion came to a screeching halt as they turned to survey what had happened. Razkael and Collins were surprised as three ghosts turned towards them, and began speeding across the urban jungle after them. Collins stared at Razkael, and then pushed him off with a hard thrusting motion. They got up and began their systematic retreat, as well as the other members of remaining soldiers.

      "Don't get any funny ideas Collins." Razkael shouted as he made a diving roll over a large rectangular flower pot, and rolled down a hill befor finally coming to a stop as he collided with a stone pillar.

      "Never sir." Collins responded before tripping on a barely visible stub of brick tile that had been broken by earlier fighting. He fell headlong into one of the flower containers, cutting his brow ridge and sliding down the hill on his back. He went into a reverse tumble and ended upside down beside a heavy window.

      "You alright Collins?"

      "Yes sir, I think I am."

      "Then this is no time for a fucking nap, get up and lets go. Those ghosts aren't gonna be as nice to ya as I am!"

      "But your not nice." Collins protested as Razkael locked wrists and jerked the man to his feet. Three of the other surviving marines in his squad, actually, the only other surviving marines in his squad, rushed by the two as they hurried to secure the area. They moved to the corner of the building, and one man peeked around the side. He put up two fingers, pointed to himself, and then to his eyes. He made a gun sign on his hand, and shot several invisible people standing around the corner. The other two marines nodded, and scurried quietly across the street.

      Six hapless Grunts were wading through the street in the other direction, their backs to their unseen enemy. Boykins and Adamson's weapons fired several small blurps of fire before the meter-tall fighters hit the ground in a heap. Boykins hand motioned to the hidden marines, and they crossed the street one by one.

      A jet-wash like roar echoed from somewhere above. Razkael turned to face the sky as two Ghosts bounded the ridge above. They sailed for thirty or so feet before finally coming to a sparking stop at the ground. The third ghost wasn't as lucky, and nailed one of the plant's holders as it attempted it's jump. It made several wild flips before landing upside down in the gravel, bullets pelting it's driver as it landed.

      Plasma soared towards Boykins and Adamson, who covered their faces in a futile attempt to stave the attack. Luckily, their path suddenly arked in a slight curve, sending the super-heated matter hurtling harmlessly into the air. The upturned Ghost's gravity device had been stuck in the active position by the driver's leg in the crash, and the force it exerted changed the weapons direction.

      Two angry elites accelerated towards the marines on a kamikazeesque attack. If their ammo wasn't going to hit them, they would use their hover bikes to. The metallic hovering beasts coasted around the corner of the urban goliath that was the City Financial Bank, and were greeted by an empty courtyard. The vehicle's slowed their velocity, a mistake their pilots would soon regret. Two humans leapt from a dark recess and tackled the seated Elites. One slipped from his seat and was replaced by a more-than-willing marine, and the other was holding on for dear life as the relatively scrawny human tugged vigorously at him.

      Razkael turned his Ghost and aimed the nose at the second one. The unseated elite was quickly laid-out as the heavy metal mechanism crushed him under it's weight. The anti-gravity pods underneath it's stubby wings only helping to pin him further down. Razkael floored the "gas" pedal, and he leapt forth in a bound. Collins released his grip on the Elite he was fighting and rolled to the right just in time for his comrade's Ghost to slam into the nearby Ghost.

E.S.N. Capital Building

      Taki watched with surprise as the five humans he had been keeping an eye on managed to get the upper hand, managing even to commandeer several Ghosts. The nimble and quick vehicles were ideal for the urban combat, as their small stature and great handling allowed them access to many places larger vehicles were not.

      He switched feeds to San Francisco, where a heavy battle was being faught on the third Golden Gate Bridge. Six human tanks, three warthogs, and a small company of support infantry to back them up. Their opposing force was of equal stature, with two or three Shadow tanks, and six or so Ghosts in supporting rolls. A larger detachment of Grunts and Jackals were backing up the Covenant Troop attempting to either cross or control the bridge.

      Weapons fire etched it's way back and forth across the bridge, white, blue, green, and red tracer and plasma fire racing to-and-fro on the span. Taki switched once more.

      A massive building, which soon turned into the Eiffel Tower, was burning in the background. The one prestigious Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had long been destroyed, but the small hill at it's location was being valiantly defended by the British troops taking cover there. On the other side was a large formation of Covenant, sitting with heavy support, waiting for whatever unfortunate person or persons should stumble into their midsts.

Paris, France
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

      William Preseey wathched on with curios eyes as a troop of French "cavalry" rolled past them, a hunred and fifty or two hundred strong. He thought they looked splendid in their heavily armed vehicles. Word must have gotten out about the Covenant herassing then, and they had come to put a stop to that. They could never have been told about the heavy plasma turrets on the other side. They laughed at the men as they rode briskly by, raising their assault rifles in the air as the British marines looked back at them.

      Before reaching the top of the hill they opened out to about six feet between each vehicle and in a straight line. Preesey hardly breathed. Over the top of the hill they charged, weapons at the ready. There was not a sound from any of the marines. Then, only a few seconds after they disappeared, the hellish noise of machine guns broke out. Preesey just looked at his friend, who returned the gesture. The only words he heard spoken were "Bloody hell...". That's what it must have been over the hill, because none of the French troops returned.

      If only the commanding officer had stopped for one minute and talked to one of the British officers, they would have told them of the mounted machine guns, and that it was certain death over the hill from where they had come. Who had sent that splendid troop to a certain death? What an awful waste of husbands, brothers, sons. Many commanders of the war must have a lot on their minds. Preseey thought to himself as he turned from the hill in disgust, and began his march back towards camp. There was no more fighting to be had for them, at least not then. They were heavily out numbered, tired, and worst of all, hungry.


Reference: All for a Shilling a Day William Preseey, British gunner in the Royal Artillery.