Halo: Stealth Combat Evolved: Part 2-Chapter 6
Posted By: Mind_Affecting_Parasite<email@example.com>
Date: 26 September 2004, 12:47 AM
0730 hours (Standard Time), August 28, 2552 (Military Calender)
Palestine System, planet Caucus IV, Conifer Mountain Military Complex Territories
The body of the LRV shook and rattled with each bump in the path. Lance Corporal Mark Smith bent his knees and gripped the mounted turret in font of him more tightly. Both the Warthog he was riding on and the other, riding ahead several meters down the dirt road, were on one of the evening patrols. All to make sure that nothing was out there, and to keep tabs on all that happened around the vast forests and mountainsides.
Lance Corporal Smith thought the possibility of an attack out here very un-likely. If the Covies were gonna glass Caucus Four, they would have already done it, was his reasoning. That meant that all operations on the planet could proceed without hindrance. The military base was the most prominent settlement on the surface of the globe, the Marine commanders in charge of everything not controlled by the research and mining teams. That was the other population in the Palestine system; a few cities of civilian personnel to keep everything working.
A line of white light outlined the foremost rattling 'Hog, its powerful headlights set to maximum at the late hour, the beams casting their illumination on anything that was in their proximity. Long, dark shadows receded into the surrounding maze of coniferous tree trunks and assorted bramble. Mark caught a glimpse of a type of rabbit-like creature as it hopped into the safety of darkness. The two light reconnaissance vehicles rolled on.
Within a few minutes, the two Warthogs would be arriving at the outermost guard house. From there they would drive easy through the innermost 'house, and into the base. Most of it was buried in solid rock, deep within the mountain. It offered security, and provided a safe haven and center of operations for all of what went on about the "colony."
"Ahh," mumbled Smith, as a small rock from the cut path impacted his already stinging-from-cold cheek. He looked up and saw a series of the projectiles erupt from the left-rear tire of the first 'Hog. "What the hell was that?"
"What's that Smithy?" shouted Lindsey Hawkins, the Assault Rifleman seated in the passenger's seat, over the rumble of the engines and tree-reverberated truck sounds.
"Just got pegged in the face," replied the Lance Corporal, bring up his right hand to wipe away a trickle of blood.
Lindsey looked forward for a second, then back at the showy face of her squadmate. "From what?"
"The other 'Hog, tire spat one right at me."
Hawkins gave a laugh, half muted from the sound of the tires thudding over a small log. "Hey Sarge," she nudged the driver. "Corporal Fucker just hit Smithy with tire spray."
Staff Sergeant Burton kept his sharp brown eyes on the road, navigating a turn. "What? How, Private?"
"Must have hit a rock pocket in the path."
Burton smiled, a little bit of fun brought to the routine patrol.
"Corporal Fucik, watch were you send those rocks," he put in to the other driver over the COM.
"What, sir?" came the delayed response, the voice laced with a Russian accent.
"You just nailed my gunner in the noggin with a rock."
A pause. "Oh, copy that. Well, sorry sir," a laugh on the other end. "Give my regards to Smith, would ya?"
Private Hawkins exchanged looks with her Sergeant. "Just keep it on the road, Fucker," she put in.
Burton gave her a glance but otherwise remained silent. That is, until the first Warthog was jerked into a fishtail, through a patch of thick mud and rocks. Brown splattered the windshield of the Sergeant's vehicle, and rocks pinged from the metal body.
"That one got my helmet," commented Smith, bouncing on his legs through the same liquid filled pit, now sporting natural brown face cover.
"Calm down, Corporal," corrected Sergeant Burton, activating the windshild wipers and liquid cleaner for a moment.
The initial response was a minor decrease in the foremost transport's speed. "Alright, alright. Copy that, sir," said Fucik, his fun put to the side.
The rear driver smiled slightly in the dark behind the dash, continuing onward on the patrol.
Sergeant Davis watched the white mist, that was his breath, rise and become illuminated in the bright flood light attached to the side of the guard house. The chilled water vapor drifted through the air in an amorphous cloud, vanishing after a couple seconds. The temperature was cool, not freezing; but it was brisk at five degrees Celsius. The Sergeant's fingers had started to go numb about two hours previous, gripping the cold stock of his rifle. Gloves and a quick cup of Joe, compliments of one of the Privates also standing 'round, had solved that problem quickly.
With the cool temperatures came something that was rewarding enough to endure the uncomfortable outdoors. No clouds drifted into the evening sky, meaning that there would be an unobstructed view the upcoming night. Lamar Davis like evening and nighttime duty, it proved to be quiet and uneventful. He had a chance to think and enjoy the wonderful views that the billions of stars, orbiting natural satellites, and the aurora borealis if he was lucky. Even if he had to shiver a little.
Sergeant Lamar Davis had been on Caucus IV for the last few months; sent in by a supply ship, along with some others. They hardly ever sent anyone out here now, with most of the ships engaged in protecting the inner colonies. An out-of-the-way system like Palestine just didn't get noticed as much anymore. By Humans, and seemingly, also by the Covenant.
Davis went back to examining the dimming sky, trying to find something to focus on. That was one of the downsides of working later shifts, you barely had anything real to do. The slowly rising moon already in the sky was in full, glowing like a opal lit from within. In actuality, the moon, having been dubbed "Frost", was a satellite slightly larger than the moon orbiting Earth. It had a surface of ice and rock, with a thin atmosphere composed of water vapor, much of which was constantly falling to the surface in frozen form. The gravity wasn't great, and so the snowfall rate wasn't heavy, and the atmosphere wasn't that dense either; but it was still a nice sight.
Lamar knew that the second moon, a rock with high concentrations of iron, would rise later in the night.
The dull roar of engines slowly broke the silence, as the sound grew in the distance. The tone changed as the gearbox downshifted for the approach to the outer guard house.
"Who's scheduled for evening patrol?" Davis asked of the Private sitting within the small structure beside the road.
"Staff Sergeant Burton and his quad, sir," came a slightly delayed reply, the less experienced Marine having to look a moment for the information.
Two minutes early, thought Lamar.
Within a few moments, the first dull beams of light crept around the farthest curve in the un-paved road. A M12 LRV was quick to follow, the distinct outline of the weapon-mounted vehicle visible from the headlights of the second truck. After a few seconds of drawing closer, the LAAG and Gauss Gun mounted transports slowed to a halt a few meters before the bar that was presently lowered over the road.
"How you boys doing tonight?" asked Sergeant Davis, patting the left side of the first vehicle, and looking over at the second.
"Cold as shit, sir. Otherwise, we've been peachy," replied the passenger of the leading Warthog, looking back at the MP.
Davis ignored the negative tone the response had been given, knowing that this particular Marine, one Private Mainz, always spoke in the rough manner; it had offended many ignorant personnel in the past. "Good," he said, moving around the back of the foremost jeep and onto the drivers side of the next. "Good evening, Sergeant Burton."
"Feeling social tonight, Lamar?" asked the squad leader and driver.
"It's been quiet, just wanted to see a friendly face."
"Well, I hope you find one," a smile. "We all clear here, Davis?"
Lamar smiled back. "Yeah. Let me report you in and open up the gate."
"Hurry it up, it's cold enough already out here."
"Supposed to get down to at least twenty-five later," the Marine MP shouted over his shoulder, already walking back in front of the rear 'Hog.
"Damn," commented Smith from the back. "I forgot my mittens."
"You know where the warmest spot on your body is," Lindsey shot back as a type of joke, laughing lightly. "Just shove your paws down there."
"Alright, but only if I get to share some of your body heat; unless you want to warm your hands with mine. Hell, why not just share some pants?" the gunner jested back, trying to match his squadmate's attitude.
The Staff Sergeant shook his head at the conversation. "Just make sure you wait 'till we're back at base to fool around."
"Lift her up," ordered Sergeant Davis, looking into the guard shack with both hands on the open door's frame.
"Yes sir," replied the stationed Private, punching a few controls.
The pair of metal rods rose quickly out of the path, signaling the drivers to get a move on. The engines soft growl changed to a roar as the wheels spun for a brief second, then caught traction and sent the two transports on their way.
"When's the next patrol set to come back in?" questioned Lamar.
The Private looked over his charts. "Looks like Sergeant Pickles in three-hours; another patrol is supposed to go out at oh-eight-hundred, too."
"Well, Jimmy, looks like we will just have to sit and wait."
"I suppose so, sir," the Private looked thoughtful for a moment. "Another cup of coffee, sir?"
A shout and small cheer went up from around the circular table, two of the five people sitting around its circumference allowing a light clap. Four others were also in the immediate area of the rectangular room; two in a corner playing chess, and the other two leaning over the table, trying to get a good look at what everyone was doing.
The five around the table were playing a round of five-card stud. They were all in the rec hall of the base, passing the time while they were off-duty. Those around the circular piece of furniture were composed of members from two squads, most others in the room were just random personnel. One man in particular, at the poker game, had just won.
"Read 'em and weep, baby!" announced Lance Corporal Martin, pulling the twenty-six dollars and seventy-two cents of credits from the center of the table.
"Friggin' A, boy," exclaimed PFC McCall, another one of the players, his voice drowned in a southern-country accent. "Lucky son-of-a-bitch."
"How'd ya pull that one off, Greg?" asked another Marine.
"It's all skill, guys; all skill," the winner replied, looking down at his royal flush.
"Bull shit, Martin. You must have cheated or somethin'," another voice commented.
"Just luck," put in one of the chess players, an ODST, gaining a brief glance from the table.
The laughter and clipped discussion died down as the Lance Corporal looked around and nodded.
"But fellas, I think that the kind Corporal still owes me something," he said, a smirk spreading across his face.
Everyone smiled and looked to the referred-to woman across the table: Ashley Biggs. Everyone there held the opinion that her last name might as well be her nickname, too; the reason easily spoken for when an ignorant individual would first see her.
She sat there with her arms crossed, her losing hand, a flush, laying loosely on the surface in front of her, next to her quarter-full beer bottle.
"So? What'll it be Ash?" questioned Gregory Martin, getting some supportive tones from the other men present.
"I lost," she admitted, her arms uncrossing. "And I did make a bet..."
The Lance Corporal smiled at her half-playful look.
Biggs looked around quickly, making sure none of the stricter COs were around, grabbing a couple handfuls of the bottom of her black shirt. She found almost every eye in the room gazing at her, waiting for her to follow through on her end of the bargain.
With a final look around, a biting of her lower lip, and her stomach exposed, her hands had found the innermost layer of clothing. Tensing her arms, the sports bra came free, and her shirt lifted. Two pale, fair skinned, protuberantly bulbous appendages fell down loosely over the unembarrassed woman's chest.
A few looks of slight shock spread over the faces of the other personnel present, mixed with smiles, smirks, and glances of appeasement.
Murmurs and comments were quickly shared.
"Man, their even bigger in person."
"Them's some nice titties," McCall stated unabashedly.
Ashley gave a final smile of satisfaction, bounced once on her seat, then worked her shirt and supportive undergarment back over her now publicly viewed breasts.
"Wouldn't mind tangoing with them sometime," admitted one of the present Privates, not thinking about his comment before he spoke it.
"Heck, Pullman," Martin glanced at the Private. "I'd just settle for a bed session."
"Maybe if you give me a good enough reason, Martin," Corporal Biggs said, looking on through the comments, straightening her clothes, and sardonically smirking through the spoken thoughts. She took a gulp from her beer as well.
"You're all just boob obsessed perverts," the previously unspoken chess player, also a ODST, threw into the mess of staring eyes at the table.
That got a laugh from everyone, and a few more words.
Private Reynolds walked in during the peak of the post-incident laughing and jesting. He had been sent on a drink run, and was confused, curious, and wondering if he wanted to know as he took a few timid steps into the room.
The Lance Corporal noticed him through the bottom of his own beer bottle. "Come on over, kid."
The eighteen-year-old young man walked over with a suspecting and bemused look upon his face. He took a seat on a spare stool.
"Yeah boys," said Billy McCall, grabbing a icy fresh bottle of beer from the now arrival. "Hey, where's the whiskey at?"
"What I miss?" the youngest Marine, now present, asked.
"All the fun," answered one of the onlookers.
"And a good view," added another.
"Of what's got ta be the best thermometer 'round these parts," elaborated Billy, in his own fashion.
The newer Marine wrinkled his eyebrows, slightly confused.
"Temperature was flippin' good, too. Just a bit of a chill."
Ashley grabbed another beer, her old bottle now empty. "Next time make sure you're hear, Reynolds," Biggs put forward. "So you can wash 'em off for me."
The youngster got it. "No pictures for me?"
"Sorry, Josh. It was a one time deal," replied Greg.
"So," Ashley began to mention. "Who's for another round."
"Deal me in."
"Let's get 'er done."
-Came some of the responses, as all five previous players proceeding in anting up.
"Thank you, son," said the General, accepting the fresh cup of hot coffee from his subordinate.
Colonel Johnson sat back down. "You're welcome, sir. Good evening."
The control room of the base blinked around them. Hundreds of indicator lights fluctuating every second, several displays on the monitors, and a few random radio communications from around the complex.
"It's morning of you go by standard time."
"I suppose so, sir. Does wonders for your internal clock."
"How are the troops, Colonel?" asked General Swots in his Boston accent, taking the first drink of his black coffee.
"They're well, so far at least. The newer recruits seem to have been absorbed pretty quickly, even the younger ones," Zachary Johnson replied in his own Texan accent. "The ODSTs were a little rough mixing when they first got here, but I think that new boundaries and such have been set between them. Jesus, watching them interact with each other is like watching Tasmanian Devils fight for a scrap of meat."
"We'll be good though; just normal operations."
"Be glad of that, Colonel. We're damned lucky to not have been attacked out here."
"I know, sir. But I'll admit that I still worry about it."
The General leaned back. "Well, don't stress yourself out. Leave that kind of thinking to me."
"No problem there, sir."
"Good. So, you began some testing with the new weapons today."
"Yes. They're some nice pieces of technology. They'll even out the overall munitions line-up."
"That will be good."
"It'll take some time for the soldiers to get used to the feel, but I'm sure that things will go just fine once the weapons get settled."
"When, do you think, will they be ready for standard issue?" General Swots questioned Johnson.
"Well, technically, they already are. It won't take long for the men, and women, to get proficient. The things are standard weaponry, just newer models."
Wesley Swots nodded, accepting the answer. "It's about the end of your duty today isn't it, son?"
"Yes, I know sir. Do you need anything else?"
"Don't worry about me, Colonel; I have everything under control."
Zachary sighed at the reply, standing. "Good night, General."
"Have a good afternoon."
Author's Note: Some of you may have noticed the Date/Time Stamp at the beginning of my story. This has not been my style in the past, and so I am new to creating an appropriate time and date for each of my chapters. Now, for this particular story, in an attempt to make it fit reasonable in the current Halo story (because I like to when I can, and because of what I plan to do with the story in the future). I had trouble creating this date because of the oddity of the dates from H:tFoR and H:FS. If anyone that reads this has any information or speculation on what was involved with the time distortion mentioned in First Strike, please post your opinion(s) along with your comment.