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Fan Fiction

Private Reg's Last Day Of Combat
Posted By: Maszimo<maszimo@hotmail.com>
Date: 25 February 2001, 6:38 pm

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Private Reg was scared. As he stepped over a small fallen log grown over and covered by grass, he imagined that everyone in the squad must have been at least a little scared. Looking over his left shoulder, he cast his eyes over the other members of his squad, all of them advancing cautiously through the tall grass with their rifles outstretched, and he was surprised at how calm most of them looked. Gulping, he turned his own eyes forward and tried to keep his fear from showing on his face.

His squad, the 3rd squad, of the 2nd platoon, of the 1st company, was a part of the local regiment that ran patrols around this area of the Halo. The squad was good, and hadn't suffered a casualty in nearly three weeks, despite the series of dangerous missions they had performed. It was a running joke throughout the regiment that, if a tough job came along, go ahead and hand it to the "321" squad, they could pull it off easy.

Today, Reg and the rest of 3rd squad were on the hunt for a reported lost Covenant tank that had become damaged and separated from its column following a successful ambush that morning. 3rd squad's orders were to capture the tank if possible, and were supported by artillery from a nearby BAT battery and a trio of special Recon Marines in a Warthog jeep. Eight men in all, including the Recon guys, and all they had to do was capture a single tank. Reg didn't buy it. In over a dozen patrols 3rd squad had run this month alone, they had never had more support than what they could hump along themselves as well as dropship extraction. Twice, even flyboys hadn't been available, and the only way 3rd got out of tight spots on those occasions was to fight its way out. As point man for 3rd squad, Private Reg had developed a certain sense of when a mission was looking foreboding, and this particular trip was ringing his internal alarm bells. Not that he thought Command was deliberately not telling them something, but the presence of all the extra equipment being fielded told Reg than Command wasn't sure exactly what 3rd was being sent into.

Reg shifted uncomfortably in his armor as he neared the edge of the tall grass which the squad had cautiously been making it's way through. The commander of 3rd squad, Sergeant Doyle, thought the Covenant tank was nearby, partly because of oil (or whatever it was that the blues used for oil) the squad had come across about half a thousand yards Spinward of where they were now and partly because they could hear, just barely, the high-pitched whine of the Covenant tanks' anti-grav motor as it limped along.

Unfortunately, the trail which 3rd had been following crossed out of the field and right into a low box canyon a few square miles across. Reg eyed the entrance critically, fearing an ambush. The sound of the tank's passage echoed eerily of the walls of the canyon, the high, reverberating hum causing the hair on the back of his neck to climb higher the closer they got.

Though he hadn't told anyone, Reg was beginning to believe that he was coming undone. The constant fighting, coupled with the stress of forever being on point, was beginning to wear on Private Reg's mind. He found his focus wandering, even during life and death situations. He worried that he was heading for a breakdown, and that, if he had one at the wrong moment, someone he knew would die. The men in 3rd squad trusted, time and again, Reg's abilities as point man, and he worried that he would fail them and get someone killed.

Enough of that, he chided himself mentally. You have a task here; focus on that. However, each time he tried to achieve the focus he'd enjoyed throughout his life, where he could block out everything but the job at hand, his mind began to wander.

Meanwhile, not far away, under the cover of protective camouflage netting, two dropship pilots sat in the sweltering semi-darkness of their cockpit. One of the pilots, Maszimo, was roundly cursing the other for accidentally knocking the ladder which he had been climbing out from under him with the ships' auto-loader whilst he was trying to secure the camouflage. A slight ringing in his ears and a nasty lump on his forehead helped fuel Maszimo's rant of insults as he sat there, eyes closed holding a wet cloth to his aching head, and slowly and deliberately ran down the very long list of defaults of his co-pilot, a man named Bob. As the pair were thus engaged, and with the ship's sensors powered down, they utterly failed to notice the rather large and well armed force of Covenant warriors and vehicles which passed quite near their makeshift jungle landing site.

Private Reg crouched low, his laser range finder pressed to his eye and his voice speaking lowly into his communicator as he reported to the other men in the squad crouched and hidden behind him. His voice was low and cool, the sound of a professional at work. Reg knew though, that once the bullets started flying and the battle was joined, his heart rate would spike, he'd begin to hyperventilate, and his muscle discipline would begin to slacken. He just couldn't seem to shake the premonition that, so long as he was doing the job he was, he was sure to die. He dreaded facing the enemy, but his pride and loyalty to his friends would made it impossible to request a transfer to any other branch of service, and besides, on the Halo, everyone faced the enemy. He was convinced though, if he could just get himself off the damn point, he'd make it through ok.

Shaking his head once, violently, he tried to banish thoughts of his own death or survival and concentrate on his report. He was crouched low, almost laying flat, with a large moss covered log in front of him as cover. Below him, in a beautiful jungle clearing, complete with waterfall and clear clean pool, the Covenant tank labored on it's side abandoned, it's crew and tiny escort apparently taking a break to enjoy the liquid and take a piss. (or whatever it was they did.) Two of the four Covenant were holding no weapon which Reg could make out, and the other two had their weapons either slung or completely at rest. They were obviously happy about something. Probably just glad to be safe, Reg thought to himself. Shaking his head again, he finished his report to Sergeant Doyle, who told him to hold position while he finalized preparations for the ambush. Stealthily, the men from 3rd squad encircled the water hole, where two of the Covenant had actually jumped in, and two were sitting contentedly along its banks. All four were talking, full voice, in their strange, guttural language, and Reg fingered his weapon, wondering what they were talking about.

Suddenly, startling Reg, the voice of Sergeant Doyle came on his comm, informing him that the squad would commence firing in ten seconds. As he counted down silently to himself, Reg brought his pulse rifle to his shoulder and sighted the Covenant closest to him. As the countdown reached zero in his mind, gunfire sprouted from all points around the perimeter of the jungle, the crossfire catching one of the Covenant in the water and one by the bank and literally tearing their bodies apart.

Grimacing, Reg pulled the trigger of his own rifle and was horrified when nothing happened. Stunned, his mouth agape, Reg stared dumbly at the weapon in his hand, then looked up, even more horrified, as the Covenant he had targeted spotted him, snatched up a weapon, and pointed it at his head from no more than 20 feet away. Reg closed his eyes, expecting oblivion, and was more than surprised when he felt a slight tap on his shoulder a few moments later.

"Reg?" It was Sergeant Doyle. He had seen the trouble Reg was in and had shot the Covenant seconds before he had shot Reg. "Reg, its ok now man. We got the tank, and all of the Covs are meat." He glanced down at the rifle still in Reg's hands. "What happened to your piece man? Some kinda misfire?" "Y-yeahh. I guess s-so." Stammered Reg, who rose unsteadily to his feet. "Well, see if you can get it worked out, we need to roll outa here in five." Sergeant Doyle gestured at someone behind Doyle with his chin. "One of the Recon guys thinks he can pilot the tank." Sergeant Doyle glanced down again once at Reg's rifle, then walked slowly off. Reg let out a sigh of relief at Doyle's departure and cast his own eyes to his rifle, trying to find what malfunctioned. He didn't have to look very hard, because even a cursory glance showed that Reg had forgotten to deactivate the safety on his rifle.

After finishing his extended rant on the inequities and shortcomings of his least favorite person in the galaxy to his own satisfaction, Maszimo, utilizing the excuse that final preparations on the electrics in the cargo and passenger hold needed to be preformed, disgustedly rose from his flight chair and went aft. A few moments after he left the sweltering cockpit, Bob's comm unit crackled and the voice of Sergeant Doyle came softly through, delivering the code words which indicated the missions success, the location of the extraction point, and the estimated time he expected 3rd squad to reach to LZ. Calmly, still holding radio silence, Bob merely double tapped his receiver, indicating to Sergeant Bob that the message had been received and confirmed. Smiling, Bob began preflight checks and started softly humming to himself. His humming was badly off key, but he didn't mind. He was delighted that the mission was going so well, and hoped it would continue to proceed smoothly so he could get back to base-camp and finish watching the entertainment vid he'd found amongst the wreckage of an evacuated human base that he and Maszimo had discovered the week earlier. The story was very good; it was about a dashing spy, some beautiful women, and some sort of petroleum product on early 20th century earth.

Bob wished that Maszimo had found some sort of video or distraction or something in the rubble that day, instead of being attacked by all those bees. Bob thought Maszimo needed a hobby or something. The guy could use some relaxation.

At that moment, a soft chime went off in Bob's helmet, indicating that the dropship was prepped for immediate combat liftoff. Smiling pleasantly to himself, Bob kicked the engines to full power and opened up the ships' after burners as he pulled sharply back on his stick, rocketing the dropship into the sky on a pillar of incandescent fire. The roar from the engines almost covered up the bang, clatter, and cursing which issued forth from the back of the dropship with impressive volume as Maszimo fell from an air duct and had his tool case fall on his head.

3rd squad moved along as swiftly as the damaged Covenant tank would glide over the terrain. All of the members of 3rd squad, including the remaining Recon guys, had clambered aboard either the Warthog or the tank itself so as to make better time over land. Private Reg found himself riding shotgun in the Warthog as it ranged slightly ahead of the tank, scanning for possible ambushes along the road. Sergeant Doyle wasn't sure if the Covenant could have contacted reinforcements, but he wasn't taking any chances with his men or the equipment entrusted to him by Command.

After several tense minutes laboring along with the tank, the two vehicles reached the LZ and Sergeant Doyle ordered a perimeter set up. The LZ for this mission was a narrow clearing in the middle of a dense jungle area, and the Sergeant ordered his men into the center of the clearing and deployed in a circular fashion around the tank, which they powered down in an attempt to defilade it as much as possible. Doyle ordered the Warthog, with Reg in it, to position itself 300 meters west, where the jungle thinned into the clearing, and watch for the dropship. From this vantage, the men in the jeep had the clearest view of the projected flight path of the low cruising ship, but were also the most exposed to attack should the Covenant attack.

Reg, from his seat in the jeep, nervously scanned the surrounding forest for any sign of the enemy. The Marines sharing the jeep with him also hunted with their enhanced electronic eyes, and the Marine manning the rocket launcher at the rear of the jeep slowly traversed his weapon in a slow circle to cover as much ground as he could. After several minuets of anxious watching and waiting, the men received a broadband comm transmission from the dropship stating that they were less than a minute out. Several of the men surrounding the tank, relieved that their dangerous mission appeared over and with really not much fighting, showed immediate signs of relaxation, some even pulling out their smoke rations and lighting up. Even Sergeant Doyle seemed to breath a sigh of relief as he removed his helmet and wiped at the sweat on his forehead.

It was then the Covenant hit them.

Private Reg would later not be certain what was the first thing that happened to begin the engagement. He had been watching Sergeant Doyle through his binoculars, and the next thing he knew was that there had been a bright light and he found himself tossed through the air. It was only after he had landed with a thud that drove the air violently from his lungs and made his joints scream that he heard the whoosh-crash-bang sound of the covenant rocket that had nailed the jeep. And suddenly fire was everywhere. Laser fire erupted from the woods all along 3rd squad's position, fire so intense and concentrated that every single man in 3rd squad was forced to duck and scramble for cover so that return fire from the men was tardy and poorly aimed. Sergeant Doyle was the first up, rising to one knee behind the cover of a medium sized rock and returning fire at the Covenant with short, controlled bursts. Roaring at his squad, Doyle got his men up and directing their fire more against the Covenant in the trees in a proper fashion. One of the men in 3rd squad though, Corporal Franklin, dodged from cover too soon and was wounded in the chest by a series of Covenant blaster hits.

Reg observed all this from his prone position 300 yards away on his back and upside down. Dizzily, he rolled his head forward and scrambled onto his knees, just in time to be terrified by the shadow and ear-blistering noise of the dropship as it roared in at tree top level, and took up it's position hovering over the beleaguered 3rd squad.

The dropship spun around, it's nose mounted machine gun raking the wood line with withering fire as Bob expertly maneuvered his sluggish craft to align for the landing which would be necessary to secure the tank. Seated next to him, with a new bandage wrapped around his head, Maszimo gleefully directed the machine gun on the craft as he cut down several Covenant warriors, secretly wishing that they were all Bob. "Mazi!!" Bob shouted over the sound of their engine and the battle below. "When we touch down, get aft and help secure that tank!!" Shooting a suspicious glance at Bob, one full off adrenaline and paranoia, Maszimo shouted back "Alright!" "But DO NOT take off until I give you the OK!" He unsteadily from his seat and staggered as a long blast of Covenant weapons fire impacted the hull with a muffled thoumb sound and caused the craft to rock amd sway. Maszimo fell against doorframe and gripped it with both hands as the craft continued to jump and bounce. He whipped his head back to Bob and shouted into his ear, "I MEAN it you pudgy son of a bitch!! DO NOT LIFT OFF WITH OUT MY GO AHEAD!!" Then he raced unsteadily aft to assist the troops as the dropship touched down.

Nearby, Doyle roared again into his comm, and the Marine piloting the tank powered it up and swung it ponderously around, bringing in under the low hovering dropship's magnetic grip-strip. Machine pistol in hand, Maszimo leapt out of the open cargo hold and onto the tank. As he secured it to the mag-strip, he swung his arm around and opened up on a nearby knot of Covenant that were still being held at bay by 3rd's rifle fire and shouted to Doyle to begin loading. Under Maszimo's covering fire, Doyle, now wounded twice, roared again at his squad and they began boarding the ship, Doyle furtively looked at the fiery wreck of the jeep that still lay several hundred yards away. He could see bodies around it, but they weren't moving.

Private Reg hauled himself unsteadily to his feet and ran over to check on the other men in the Jeep. The rocket had killed one of the Marines outright; the other appeared to have died when a Covenant warrior shot him point-blank in the head. Reg hesitated, for an instant, just staring at the two dead men in front of him. The fact that the only reason he was alive was because he has been blown clear of the car became horribly unflinching clear to him in that instant, then he turned and ran, as fast as he could, for the dropship, knowing that they could not wait long. As Reg bounded through the grass, running crouched over at the waist and with his head ducked, his eyes focused singularly on one thing. The dropship. To reach it meant he could get out, get back away from all this shooting and horrible death. Reaching the dropship had become the only thing that mattered to Reg in the world, and he scarcely noticed the laser fire that scorched the ground around him and set the grass at his feet to flame. In an instant the dropship had become and all consuming, all-important desire, just the safety of a machine manufactured by men, built for men, and used by men. Not the hugely alien artifacts upon which men were running, fighting, and dying on. The alienness of everything on the Halo, in all it's terrible beauty, from the alien plants to the alien rocks to the alien trees to the alien Covenant themselves to the ingrained horror it all seemed to be bringing to Private Reg's mind flowed through him as he ran, his heart pumping, his lungs aching, and his soul reeling.

He noticed, as the last of 3rd squad boarded the dropship, while he was still maybe a hundred yards off, that a Covenant warrior was aiming a large looking weapon, something very long and sinister, directly at the engine of the dropship that had come to mean so much to Private Reg. The alien was almost directly in his path, so it was the matter of a single step to the right to line himself up with the Covenant and tackle him from behind. The warrior, who had been preparing to fire its large weapon at the dropship and disable it's engines, was knocked sprawling by the charging human which landed on its blue back. Reacting from combat trained instincts, the Covenant slapped the human on it's back off on to the ground with a powerful backhand blow as it pushed off from the ground with it's other arm. Rolling onto its back the Covenant warrior grabbed for the sidearm strapped to its large blue waist, but the warrior's large finger's grasped only air.

Coincidentally, this warrior had been the one to execute the wounded Marine at the jeep, again coincidentally, with the very same sidearm Private Joseph Reg now had leveled at it's face. With a single, small, -urp- the Covenant warrior died as Reg pulled the trigger and obliterated it's head.

Not sparing the corpse a second glance, Reg sprang up and resumed his mad dash for the safety of the waiting dropship, the Covenant's blaster gripped tightly in his hand. With a precision born of desperation, Reg turned his newly liberated weapon on the mass of blue warriors that was converging on the still waiting dropship and hastily shot two of them in the back. The knot of Covenant, realizing that there was another enemy behind them, turned and let off a savage torrent of fire which caused Reg to dive for the ground and roll madly behind cover, which happened to be the dead body of a Covenant. The fierce laser and railgun fire of the enemy set the dry grass all around Reg afire, and as the thick gray smoke rose into the air, obscuring the enemy from Reg and Reg from the enemy, Reg heard the sound he had dreaded.

The high pitched whine of the dropship's engines spooling up for a power liftoff that would send it shooting into the skies, without Reg, froze his blood. The thought of being left behind filled his gut with anger inexpressible by words. Leaping to his feet, ignoring the laser fire which still peppered the ground around him and throwing the Covenant laser into the grass, Reg howled his rage into the air, raising his fists in a shaking fury against the hatefully beautiful alien sky and the race that he had tried to protect and which would now leave him to die at the hands of aliens.

Private Reg's final furious cry was cut short as the dropship swept low out of the smoke and expertly snagged Reg's armor harness with the ship's high-tensile drag wire. As the line quickly reeled Reg in, his last glimpse of the blue-skinned Covenant warriors showed several of them clustered around a second tank, and as the others in 3rd squad hauled Reg into the loving embrace of the comforting steel of the dropship, his ears were assailed with several sounds. Sweet human sounds. Reg went limp with relief. All strength fled his limbs as strong human hands strapped him into his combat seat and gave him a knockout shot for the wounds he didn't remember receiving, and he heard the voice of Maszimo screeching into the comm that the wire was in and the safety net secured, and he heard the deep baritone voice of Sergeant Doyle as he roared at the pilot to punch the engines before they were all shot down and killed. Then he heard Maszimo's voice screeching again, something about not being secured yet, don't punch it, the last thing that Private Reg heard before he was lulled to sleep by the bone jarring acceleration of the dropship as the afterburners kicked in and pitched the ship onto it's tail, was the sucking smack that Maszimo made as his body impacted with the durable safety mesh that had been tightly stretched over the opening of the cargo bay. His scream of pain and terror echoed over the smoking battlefield and caused several of the Covenant for miles around to turn and look into the sky, trying to identify it.

The dropship, with all of 3rd squad safely aboard and the Covenant tank safely secured, rocketed away into the evening sky of the Halo.

Happily, this story does have a happy ending.

Bob was promoted for gallantry and given overall dropship command for this sector of the Halo.

Private Reg recovered from his wounds, and, {following a nasty four-hour hostage stand at dropship high command perpetrated by Maszimo Black after he learned of Bob's promotion} was given Maszimo's old job of safely flying the dropships he loved so much to and from engagements. Reg was paired with a seasoned pilot of several combat missions experience who always looked after him.

Sergeant Doyle was promoted for securing the Covenant tank, and grimly continued his never-ending war against the Covenant.

Maszimo, after being convicted of mutiny, kidnapping, and the assault of a senior officer (Bob), was sentenced to serve in the mobile infantry fighting hordes of bloodthirsty Covenant warriors bent on destroying him and rending his corpse limb from limb.

He couldn't have been happier, as he was finally living his dream of being far away from Bob. In fact, Maszimo has become so proficient at his field job (and so terrified of the thought that Bob might some fly Evac for Maszimo's squad) that Maszimo pioneered a one man scout tactic which he dubbed the "refugee hide". He proposed that he remain permanently in the field for as long as humanly possible without ever coming near central command or ever getting into a dropship again.

Since then, He has been found twice on the brink of death and rushed to emergency aid stations. Since he refuses to fly, hr has been issued with a special jeep outfitted for his personal use in the war against the Covenant, and he keeps a special picture of Bob that is labeled åHigh Commander' so that in the event of his death or capture the Covenant might actually seek to eliminate Bob as a priority target. Death, fighting war, and grief, surround him, but he is happy because Bob does not. He is safe. And he owes it all to Private Reg's last day of combat.

Thanks Reg.