This is Suicide: Chapter 2
Posted By: Neile Pederson<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 21 November 2002, 5:20 pm
The group of Marines fell in behind the Master Chief as they had been instructed and John could see by their collective expressions of confusion that they had not been fully briefed on the objective of the mission. Obviously, if they were out on a barely charted planet, fully prepped for battle and following a SPARTAN-II around, this had to be really important. The Chief figured now would be as good a time as any to let them in on the full details of the mission. Of course, it would be a breach of section 11-756-04.6C of UNSC tactical information regulations, since the details were considered confidential, but he needed all his men (and women in this case) to be fully aware of what was going on if they were to be combat effective, so screw the regs.
"Okay, everybody take a knee" The marines did as they were told.
"Excuse me, sir, with all due respect, what the hell are we doing on this rock?" Mendoza asked through his thick Spanish accent.
"If you'll give me a minute, I'll get to that," the Master Chief responded. "The reason we're so far out in the galaxy is we were sent to retrieve a certain programmed entitled 'Haven Guardian' from a M704C Pelican that crash-landed a few clicks from here about six hours ago. The Pelican was carrying the program to the new shipyards being constructed on the far side of the planet when if was shot down by Covenant plasma cannons. The program is held in the hard disk banks of said Pelican, which is why we were sent with a L14 grade AI. She is the only one that will be able to retrieve the program and then initiate the scuttling sequence.
"Unfortunately, the Covenant have located the crash site and are closing in on it as we speak. Make no mistake; if the Covies get their claws on this program, we may as well give them the coordinates of every human colony is the galaxy, including Second Earth. All of us know that this is completely unacceptable. Draught, get in contact with the Intrepid and tell them to have Pelicans with reinforcements and heavy weapons on Alert Five. We may need them later. SADDLE UP!"
The Marines jumped up with a collective war yell and ran to complete what they had been told to do. The Master Chief trotted back to his Warthog, stood on the tire and opened the small compartment on the bottom-side of the dashboard. He reached inside, fumbled about until he found the button buried amongst a large knot of wires and poked it with his index finger. A small data chip slid out of the center control cluster. John slid the chip into the slot in the side of his helmet and a familiar voice greeted him with a slight tone of irritation.
"Hello John. It's about time you took me out of there. You know, for advanced as the LRVs are, they sure don't give an AI much room for playing."
"I don't think that was considered when they were designed, Dana." The slot in the console had been quickly added to John's Warthog right before this mission started with the sole purpose of hiding the AI in the event of the Covenant capturing the small tactical force. There would be no way that those aliens would even bother doing a thorough of the Warthogs, since they already now everything about every human vehicle, but they would take the MJOLNIR armor apart piece by piece, which is why Dana was kept in the Warthogs. Which was fine as far as John was concerned, since Dana rambled on in a way that made Cortana look like a deaf-mute.
"Do you need me to interface with your suit and see about overcharging your shields?" the construct asked.
"No, but keep an eye on the levels when we get into combat."
The super-soldier walked around to the back of the Warthog and opened a small weapons locker. He reached in, picked up two fragmentation grenades, 8 clips of 7.62 mm armor-piercing rounds for his assault rifle, two more clips of 14.7 mm for his sniper rifle and one 6-round clip of experimental ammo that the UNSC Military Research and Development Corps had just designed. It used the same casing and the same number of powder grains as the standard A147SR munition, but these rounds had been equipped with small explosives imbedded in the tips. According to the number crunchers, this shell could tear through energy shields held by jackals and would be able to kill any elite with one shot to the head. Of course, like every thing else, it must be combat tested to see if it truly did what it was supposed to do.
The Marines loitered next to the fallen tree near the north rim of the cliff structures, many of them smoking cigarettes, broken up by the occasional cigar. Smoking was made illegal in the early 21st century, but the UNSC tended to turn a blind eye when their troops gave in to this habit.
The March brothers sat on the log checking each other's armor and weapons, just to make sure that they would both make it back to the Intrepid today. Word was that before Earth was destroyed and they left for the training camps on Mars, their parents had made them promise to watch out for each other above all else. Of course, when their parents were killed by the Covenant, their promise became the primary driving force of their rage and now the war was a personal matter to them.
At the opposite end of the tree was Sergeant Elise Draught, one of the most competent communications officers that could be found in the Corps. She knew how to operate every communication apparatus in use and most of the outdated one also; definitely a very good person to have when in a sticky situation and needing immediate evac. Were it not for the large scar running down the length of the right side of her face, she would be downright beautiful, causing one to wonder what she was doing in this brutal war. Maybe John would ask her about it after the mission was over.
Sitting next to her was Mendoza, the heavy weapons expert. He was usually at point, since he had the necessary firepower to send any Covenant patrols dumb enough to wander in front of him back to whatever god they prayed to. His weapon set for this mission involved the use of a M73 SSW machine cannon and a M19 Jackhammer rocket launcher.
Sitting of to the side of the tree was Private Jason Doyles, the demolitions guy. He could toss a grenade over 100 meters and be accurate to within one meter. And if he could sneak inside a complex undetected, he was capable of leveling the entire structure in three minutes flat. Since everybody was allowed to choose their own weapon set for this mission, Doyles decided to bring along nearly twenty pounds of heavy-duty plastic explosive and three tanks of nitroglycerine, which needed to be held in a vibration dampening case so that they would not go off prematurely.
The rest of the Marines that John did not know so well stood in a small group near the LRVs, talking and laughing in an attempt not to show how nervous they all were about this mission. After all, it had already been determined that the Covenant had established a presence at the crash site and the UNSC, in all its infinite wisdom, decided to send in a small tactical force, with the closest backup five minutes away.
The early scouting patrols had indicated the presence of several squads of Grunts, about twelve Jackals, nine Elites and two Hunters. Not to mention the Shade plasma turrets, six Ghost rapid attack vehicles, two Banshee ground assault aircraft and a Wraith medium battle tank. This should be anything but a walk in the park.