Returning the Favor
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 29 December 2003, 5:00 AM
Elsrik's body was the worse for wear. Then again, so was everyone's. The six hours of non-stop fighting had whittled down the infantry to a mere three hundred, and the Watchmen were practically useless. The Sidewinders had fared better, but not that much better. Only one Warden had been pulled from the battle, and it had been undergoing repair as Elsrik slept. Gelinoir was snoring heavily beside him, his gun hanging limply from two fingers off of the vehicle's side.
Whatever vehicles could be salvaged were being torn to pieces for parts, or repaired to fight in the upcoming battle. Pieces of the destroyed Sentinels were also being salvaged, their shield generators could be equipped on a foot-soldier, and it's shell could be stripped to provide hull plating. Half of the massive underground facility's main floor was saturated with the dead or dying, a field hospital had been hastily erected in the hour following what was only technically a victory. No one who had been there considered it a victory, there was nothing victorious about it.
Eight Hours rmoved.
He was groggy, his muscles screamed at him not to move, and his bones felt brittle. The lights around him were blinding, it felt as though even his thick eyelids couldn't stave their advance.
"Get up kid. We've got orders." Gelinoir nudged the weary conscript, who moaned and rubbed his temples.
"What time is it?" Elsrik yawned in response.
"It's eight hours after you fell asleep."
"You said we had orders?"
"Yea, the counter-strike is about to happen. We've gotta' get to the meeting five minutes ago."
Elsrik rolled off of the goliath machine's dorsal structure, and was greeted with a ten foot fall. He hadn't remembered the platform being so high. Gelinoir jerked in response, and barely caught the falling body.
"Damnit kid, you hafta be more careful, follow me."
The two Forerunner fighters turned to the large conglomeration of men and lazily jogged to it, arriving during the middle of the speech.
"The right wing will circle around the index, and hold off the defenders as best they can. The left wing will guard the index itself, and will be responsible for the switching of the devices. General Ambrak's men will arrive when called, and land inside of the index chamber to provide support. We will then use the net to move to Calahos Grove, which as we speak is being equipped with heavy batteries and any surviving Partashins (The Forerunner species) we can find."
"The Flood, as we've nicknamed the Angastal, are expected to arrive sometime during the battle, so don't be surprised. We won't be caught off guard as we were here. Several unknown men or women bravely created a system that was more than efficient for our cause. The ground troops accompanying the attackers will ride on top of the vehicles, and are solely responsible for Flood control. The vehicles will handle the Sentinels." Ambrak finished the speech as he stepped up next to an older man, also a General. "You are dismissed. Form your ranks and get ready to engage. We're leaving in fifteen minutes."
"Fifteen minutes? Good night. I was all for catching the Monitor and his Sentinels off guard, but this is ludicrous."
Gelinoir nodded silently. The two men headed for Shashev's Shuro. The fifty man unit wouldn't be heading to the Library, but were instead responsible for reinforcing the heavy batteries and conscripting survivors.
Fifteen minutes removed.
Elsrik and the rest of Shashev's Shuro arrived at Calahos grove as expected, but the heavily fortified entrenchment they expected was no more than a burning hulk of two heavy cannons and sixty to seventy straggling survivors. The Flood had ambushed their position as they were setting up, catching the entire unit company off guard. They were from Ambrak's army, originally three hundred or so.
"My Humro.(A Forerunner god.)" Elsrik sighed as he took in the sight.
"How the hell are we supposed to support the retreating fighters? They are as dead here as they would be in the Library." A nearby infantry man complained.
"No, we should have at least two hours before they arrive." Elsrik replied. "There's plenty we can do in two hours."
"Your excellency is correct. I am sorry sir." The fighter apologized as he bowed to Elsrik, who was still wearing the Ceremonial Guard's uniform.
"MEN! We are going to save this battle yet. I want my men to dig a large circular trench around this point. We came with ten Watchmen equipped for the task, and that's all we're getting. But you, you'll dig too. Anyone who knows anything about particle-physics is ordered to to destroyed heavy batteries. The particle cannons that are still here, and the heavy weapons we brought with us are to be positioned in pairs equidistant from the four heavy batteries atop this hill. Those of you who were fortunate enough to survive this little attack, half of you will search this valley for anything we can use to fight, and the rest will help secure it. Now get moving." Shashev himself barked from the hilltop.
The original fifteen heavy batteries that had been dug in were now only three at the top of the hill. Forty particle cannons had been dug in the trenches as well; only sixteen remained. Luckily, the new arrivals had brought more weapons than logistics had ordered them to take. Ten fighting Watchmen were also present, and roaming the grove in search of survivors of either the Flood or the attack.
One hour fifty six minutes removed.
Shashev's Shuro had been fortunate. The almost two hours they received were very productive. Two more of the heavy batteries had been repaired, bringing the total to four. Three concentric rings had been dug, each inside of the other, and leading to the heavy batteries. The particle cannons and Sharders were entrenched as well, with all one hundred ten men scattered roughly throughout the rings.
The air sizzled as the fighters were warped between existences and into the new grove. Five hundred and seven light and heavy infantry men and women phased into being, and landed in the battle-torn grove. A slight rumble course through the earth as they landed at once. As practiced, they immediately began their sprint for the trenches. Several scattered and frightened soldiers panicked at the lack of reinforcements, and were sent into a state of psychological shock.
Sentinels and Guardians shifted space and entered the atmosphere only seconds later, many following the second wave of Forerunner fighters. The second wave was comprised of the Minutemen, Sidewinders, Wardens, Watchmen, and Sentries. The Guardians were basically Sentinels on a much larger scale. At nearly four times their size, and packing eight times the firepower, they were the most heavily armed of the Monitor's forces. The Minutemen were massive walkers, supported on six branching legs, and with two rotating central weapons platforms (CWP's), they were the second largest units on the field. The largest units on the field were the Sentries. Based off of recovered Sentinels and Guardians schematics, they were also completely autonomous. It's armaments consisted of sixteen independently operated heavy lasers, three cluster lasers, and two particle cannons. The only thing that was going to bring these behemoth's down had to be massive, as large as twenty Sentinels. Even if the Sentinels classified the Sentries a big enough threat to reconnoiter the needed troops, it's backup of Wardens or Minutemen would surely bring them down.
A heavy war cry was uttered from the bunker on the hill's crest, and the ground-shattering sound of heavy batteries muted all others. Quadruple spicules of electromagnetic death filled the air. They were a severe threat to any of the mechanized soldiers, but not to the pilots inside of them. Off to the left of the main battle, Elsrik could see an incoming assault of Angastal. Just what they needed. He dodged through the crowded people filling the trench and made his way to the sector of circle facing the incoming attack.
"I need you and your men to concentrate on the incoming assault force coming in from Estel (the Ring's location system, such as East or West on Earth)."
"But, but we have to help, help, the Sentinels are everywhere." Elsrik sighed impatiently at his misfortune.
"This was all planned, the vehicles will take care of them. But if you don't take care of the Angastal, the vehicles will have nobody to fall back to. Then we lose the battle, and everyone here dies. Then everyone at The Garden dies. Then everyone on Eden dies because of the Angastal. All because you wouldn't take a simple order."
The words must have hit home like a ton of bricks, because the man's facial expression turned solemn, yet understanding. He knew what he had to do. A nearby communications officer requested that the entire sixty degree section of all three circles direct their fire at the incoming Flood. Hopefully with all of the heavy weapons and with them still at such a long range, they could inflict some serious damage. Hundreds of blue and green flashes lit up the sky in a horizontal rain that casually arced before slamming into the ground. Their formation, which was only a massive wave, was decimated. Their compact nature was cut down from the Sharders and Particle Cannons splash effect. Scattering and chaos ensued, and they creatures actually turned on themselves. Elsrik wasn't sure if this was due because of their confusion, or if it was somehow due in part to their nature.
Could the Flood actually be so insidiously stupid that even though they recognize each other as Flood, that once they are fired upon they automatically attack anything that could possibly be the attacker. In this case, their spore captor's antennae wouldn't be able to sense the enemy from such a long distance, and would logically assume that one of the nearby Flood was itself attacking the group. It made perfect sense when he thought about it, but from what he was seeing, he didn't want to find out the hard way.
An overhead explosion caught Elsrik's attention, and shards of metal and debris rained down upon him. A large piece slammed into his forehead, and he crumpled into the blood-soaked dirt. Ground soaked in his blood. In the energy and excitement of battle, not a single soul noticed the action. The only person who knew him, who would have even asked about him, had already written him off for dead.