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Countdown Earth: Hour Five and Thirty Minutes
Posted By: Mainevent<sameoneastheotherones@lookitupyourself.com>
Date: 16 November 2003, 4:23 AM

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      Whoever it was, he or she was VERY tall. Too tall for that matter, and Gemelez didn't like it. A familiar hole opened in his stomach, forming a deep pit he couldn't help but feel. The outline was also strange, but not too strange. He had to make his mind quickly. If he opened fire on an innocent civilian he would be busted down to nothing and put in one of the "Brig Brigades", but if it was some sort of Covenant, they would both be dead before he knew it. The UNSC was too spread out to just simply put men in small cells to rot, that was both wasteful and cost innefective. Instead they were assembled in large misfit groups and thrown as spearheads into the fray. It was a suicide mission, and everyone knew it, that's why they all avoided crime as best as possible. His mind raced at a hundred miles a minute, back and forth, yes or no, yes or no, yes or no.
      The shadow made what seemed to be, at least in his hightened state of awareness, a sudden and drastic move. He snugged his rifle hard into his shoulder, bottomed out the top on his chin, and aimed.
      "Covenant, open fire!" He screamed at the top of his lungs. The figure stood as still as a board, before being riddled with a barrage of 7.62mm armor-piercing and 50mm high explosive rounds. Gemerez and his partner sprayed the area with rounds, many making a deep splintering noise as they wedged themselves deep in wood, but many stuck. The shadow jerked back and forth from the vibrations, one of the limbs being torn violenty from the body by a 50mm round.
      "Hold your fire." He finally yelled after he had finally expended all of his ammunition. An awkward and eerie silence echoed through the treetops and surrounding flatlands, a flock of birds jetting vigorously into the air. A leaden thump and rustling of leaves as the shadow disappeared told him it landed.
      "I'm going to check it out." The passenger began to get up before a heavy hand would permit no more.
      "No, we're leaving."
      "But sir, McPherson will need assurance."
      "I'm your assurance. We killed a cleverly disguised Covenant troop attempting to lure us into the forest, and I would not allow my subordonate to risk his life for verification. He was covenant, we shot him. We did what we had to do." Gemerez growled with all of the seriousness of a black bear. His eyes were cold but deep, fear and confusion coursed through his veins.
      His partner nodded, before finally standing up and walking towards the M12 LRV. He knew what Gemerez had done, but couldn't quite blame him. He had seen the blood splotched leaves and gore-spattered ground. It was as red as paint, a color the Covenant didn't share. Something about it just didn't feel right though. Something that tugged at him from inside. He took one last look at the fleshen pile crumpled on the earth behind him before settling into the 'hog as it snorted to life.

E.S.N. Capital Building

      Taki took a deep breath as he spun silently in his chair. There was nothing to do, he hated feeling useless, especially now. Earth under attack, and he was left as a meager operator between various commanders and generals. Granted it was a very important task, vital to the outcome of the pitched battle underway, but still meaningless. He had long-since turned that task over to Phoenix, whose neural matrix could process the information with a precision that no human could match.
      He had grown bored with the various video feeds. Humans losing here, humans winning there, some of the feeds destroyed from satellite loss. The reports from space were sparse and grim, they had only lost one ship since the fleet had arrived, but many were either heavily damaged or close to innoperable. The Covenant forces were widdling the space down bit by bit, with the accuracy of a finely tuned rifle scope.
      "Major Sergeant Taki, this is General Anderson. What is our status." The largest viewing screen in the room winked to life without warning, an annoying habit of Phoenix's. He thought it more efficient to simply patch the men through without the time-waisting effort of introduction. This, however, was a much welcomed site.
      "Status is Yellow. We're holding them off as best we can in space, and we are split on the ground news. Some are losing ground, but many are winning." A large map of Europe overlapped the General on Taki's screen, while becoming the predominant feature on Anderson's. Ten large green arrows were nudging at ten large red arrows. "The green arrows represent our forces, and the red arrows represent Covenant forces. This is a time lapse of the battles."
      Four of the green arrows made an enormous surge forward, two from the south-eastern edge of Europe curving around to the north and into Germany and Switzerland. The other two were based in Egypt, and swept over the Ionian and Adriatic seas into Greece, lower Italy, and Croacia. Two more of the arrows made no move whatsoever, and the remaining two made surging steps backward. A Toulouse, France based offensive was forced to retreat into Zarazoga, Spain, cripplingly efficient and battle-hardened Covenant forces contributed to the immense success. The other arrow was based out of Minsk, Belarus made a quick surge forward, getting as far as Brest before being quickly turned back and finally coming to a stop at Rivne,Ukraine.
      "That's only Europe sir." The map of Europe shrunk and was squarely between two 3-box rows of continents. "The Americas, Antartica, Australia, Asia, and Africa are still to be reviewed." Taki began, but Anderson was too busy for the drawn-out overview.
      "Taki, I'm grateful for these maps, and they'll make great instruction tools after this battle is over. But right now, I need quick and easy to read versions of this. Do you have those?"
      "Yes sir." Replied a disheartened Taki. He tapped one-handedly at his keys and the data was sent over the secure lines that had been deeply buried between the buildings.
      Anderson read over the materials quickly with a smile showing his approval. "These are very good Taki. Very good indeed." Anderson smiled before closing the line. Taki was quickly surrounded by the darkness again. The cold metallic room seemed all-encompassing. He was alone, again. He decided to delegate himself all of the high-ranking and important calls from now on, an attempt at alleviating boredome.
      "This is Colonel Hayford, requesting information on how to proceed from here. Is anyone on this frequency.?"
      "Yes Colonel, one moment." Taki responded as he began to redirect the man, but a thought struck him. He was well aware that only a General or Admiral was legally permitted to offer the orders that he was about to give, and that he would be put away for a very long time if caught. Hell, I'm as good as that putz Anderson, and I've actually been keeping up with this war. I could make one little decision to keep such a busy man from being distracted. I'm sure he wouldn't mind...would he? No, he wouldn't. Just this once.Taki thought to himself. He turned to face the man, noting his location in his head. The map of Colombia popped up on his secondary screen, the Colonel's position and information at plain sight. Over 10,000 men under his command, and for now essentially under Taki's command.
      "It appears from here that you've been stonewalled near Florencia, with a large Covenant force stationed at San Vicente del Caguan. I suggest splitting your forces into three groups, sending two along the mountains, with one attacking from the west, and another attack their flank. And sending one along the east and attacking them from either the front or side. It'll string them out and as far as I can tell, they only have eyes on the highway leading right to them. They think we're stupid Colonel. Make them pay for that assumption." Taki finished with a smile.
      Colonel Hayford nodded and his screen dissapated from Taki's view. Taki's thirst for attention was momentarily slated, but there was an unexpected result of his actions just then. He had caught an amazing rush at being in control, he loved the power rush, and it was pulsing through him like so much of a drug. He nearly yipped for joy, but managed to push his emotions deep, there was still a lot left to this battle.