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Down in Flames: Part 3
Posted By: NevinNiven<awm338lapuamag@hotmail.com>
Date: 19 August 2001, 4:31 pm

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The next day they had found a large river and filled their canteens with water, there were also fruit-bearing trees there. They filled their hats and helmets with it. They continued to walk on, already having covered twenty miles since 1:00 AM. They sat down after another mile to rest, and half of them would sleep for the hour.

"So? What do you think the odds of us surviving this war are?" MacInnis asked Jagr.

"Truth be told? I don't want to think about it. So go away." Jagr replied.

"Okay then, goodbye and get some sleep." MacInnis stood up, yawning.

The Covenant hunter-seeker group moved slowly through the forest, ever alert of the noises made by the forest and those alien to it, but so far, no humans. Not even a chemical trail to follow them. They had headed out at 5:00 AM, this reason for this was because their dropship hadn't shown up, and that dropship had been the one to take the General out. The Overlord had yelled and ranted for the entire four hours of their briefing, talking about how stupid his General was, how he killed the Blademaster and now himself. Srh'T'K just hoped he didn't have to face the human who had slain the Blademaster in one-on-one combat. No, he wanted to live through this war.

One of his men stood ramrod straight, soon everyone else in Srh'T'K's command did. They could smell burnt plastics and metal. Like that found on a dropship. Srh'T'K hand signalled them to slowly moved forward. They did so, being careful not to crunch any leaves or snap a twig. When they came upon the wreckage carrion birds surrounded it. Picking away at a body.

"Get away from there!" Srh'T'K yelled at the birds while waving his arms madly and dashing forward.

He arrived at the broken cockpit and looked for the identification symbol. A member of theŬDeracs tribe. Those humans would pay dearly for the loss of a noble tribesman. And he would see to it that they did. He would clutch one in each hand and squeeze the life out of him, and then, he would behead them, and bury the heads in a desert, letting the birds and scorpions pick away at it. Yes, he would and-

"Sir, we have found the General." The voice snapped him out of his reverie.

"I have recieved your message and am coming your way." Shr'T'K replied.

He walked quickly, arriving in two minutes. He looked down at the General, with pieces of him spread on the ground, with blood, lots of blood around him. He had a gaping hole at one of his kneecaps, with mangled and torn flesh surrounding it, bit of white bone mixed in with the muscle. The head was off much worse, one quarter of the right side had been blown off, with two holes on the opposite side. The optical recorder did not show up on the scanners, and there was no scent of humans nearby. The General obviously didn't just pull out a rocket launcher and shoot down his dropship, then shoot out a knee and kill himself. The humans would have to be nearby.

Thirty miles away, "Good thing we jogged those last ten miles. Another jog like that and we'll be back at a base. Get's the blood flowing too." MacInnis wheezed out to Jagr.

Jagr, breathing slowly and wishing his two friends were still alive, replied, "Yeah, sure does get the blood flowing, and if we want to make it to base alive we'll be sprinting over the next hour."

"Right, that's funny, we can't sprint, we've been up to long. I've decided that we are going to walk the rest of the way." MacInnis said.

"No, you and everyone else are going to haul it back to base, believe me, you don't want to get ambushed out here by the Covenant." Jagr snapped back.

MacInnis paled a little and turned away walking. Jagr tracked the man with his stare. How stupid could the man be? Didn't he know that they would send a large scouting force after the destruction of the 3rd Army and their General! He wondered why he had even agreed to this two hour break.

Shr'T'K and his men had spread over a ten mile search area, moving in a parallel line. They crossed a rather large river, and caught scent of the humans. Shr'T'K had his command encircle the place. Then they charged in. Finding a desolate clearing with a single candy bar wrapper twisting in the wind.

"Do not worry warriors, you have not been tricked, scent the wind and you will realize that the humans have merely moved on." Shr'T'K quickly said, his cheeks flushing a deeper purple.

He gathered his men and moved on. He rather enjoyed it when he was stalking the humans. Nothing quite like the thrill of the hunt, especially with such a devious and clever enemy. He would someday write a book about his experiences in the Human-Covenant War. He would likely not sell many copies as other books written by Generals and certainly the Overlord would do much better.

"Sergeant MacInnis, get up and get a move on." Corporal Jagr yelled in MacInnis' ear.

MacInnis bolted upright, almost smashing his head against Jagr's. He looked around to see that he had been the only one still sleeping. He had to get going, no time to lose with Jagr on his case.

Five minutes later they were sprinting through the lush grassfields of Halo, the grass towered over them by at least six inches. Jagr lead the pack, making sure they didn't get lost. Another half hour at this pace and they would be back at the base. He kept running, hoping he would make it back, he had already used his burst radio to communicate that they could use a dropship. The reply had been that they were still using them to shuttle wounded Marines out of the battlefield for the clash with the 3rd Army, which had been totally destroyed with only sixty four casualties, the artillery shells had destroyed most of the armor, severely lessoning the effectiveness of the Army. He had to wait until a dropship could be re-allocated to his position. He had sent the message five hours ago.

Shr'T'K had the scent of the humans strong in his nostrils and he ran after the invisible thing. It certainly reeked, nothing like that of the Covenant. The sweat he could almost taste in his mouth. Salty, not much else. He almost tripped on a fallen log but hurdled it at the last moment, he had always been something of a day-dreamer. He guessed that the humans would be at their base in approximately a half hour. He would catch up with them in fifteen.

"Sir! They've-*crackling static*"

Jagr raised his hand and everyone stopped and about faced. They turned with rifles ready, watching for any movement amongst the sea of grass. Nothing, not even anything wavering. This had better not be some joke. And then movement from all sides plasma bursts erupting with a whine from their guns. Two Marines were felled in the crossfire, they hadn't ducked in time.

The retribution of the AR was swift, cutting into the grass and causing four dead Covenant to spill out from it. The plasma fire continued to pour in, most of it going high. The humans fired another burst at the place of origin, three thuds and their concurrent moans marked those Covenant as down. The plasma fire only came from three sources now, all in front of the humans.

Jagr spoke into his radio, "All Marines fall back the way we headed at an all out sprint, I just got word that we have a dropship en route to pick us up."

The Marines all perked at hearing this and got up laying down surpressive fire. They dashed out into the open, with a large grey dot approaching fast. The Pelican had arrived, but from the other direction two Covenant flyers screamed toward them. The Pelican touched the ground and the Marines filed in, sticking their rifles out the gun ports, two Marines took up the side mounted pea-shooters.

The flyers closed quickly, they came in range and the Marines sent fire flying out toward them. The traces burned themselves into the sky, some ricocheting off of the flyers, others biting deep into the metal. The Marines concentrated on the lead flyer, which blew into fragments and tore the pilot apart fifty yards away from the dropship. Pieces of the flyer slammed into the Pelican, the sound of impact echoing through the hollow.

The other flyer juked to avoid the shrapnel and flew past, the other half of the Marines opened fire, none hit. The flyer circled wide and came back in, head on into the fire, too bad they didn't believe in dodging fire, not honorable or something like that. They might've lived longer if not for that. The front end was turned into Swiss Cheese, erupting into bringht blue flames, the flyer spiralled down into the pack of three Covenant below, crushing them and then bouncing into the air, trailing pieces of debris. It landed in the grass fields and skidded another thirty yards, lighting the grass on fire.

In another five minutes the Marines were back at the base, glad that they didn't go down in flames, stupidly wasting their lives in some 'John Wayne heroics' as their Drill Sergeants had called them. They'd fight with their heads from now on. And they throughly enjoyed the MREs that were served for dinner.