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This is Suicide: Chapter 3
Posted By: Neile Pederson<pederson@msoe.edu>
Date: 3 December 2002, 3:42 pm

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      The Marines walked single file into the hills, Mendoza taking point, followed closely by the Master Chief and the rest of the small tactical force. The only noises were those of the breeze rustling the leaves on the alien plants and the slight hiss of the pneumatic piston supports every time Mendoza moved his M73 SSW machine cannon. The Master Chief turned to a PFC named Rowling and made a quick motion with his right hand, indicating a position status check.
      "Two mark one clicks, south by southwest, downspin," the private said softly.
      The Master Chief nodded in response and turned forward to give direction changes to Mendoza. He checked his chronometer, checked the Pelican's crash beacon indicator and figured that at the current rate of travel that the team would be at the destination in a little over an hour if they didn't run across any Covenant patrols. His tactical radar did not show any red points in the immediate vicinity, which was all that mattered since any long range Covenant could probably be avoided all together with some simple evasion tactics. The team just had to be careful and avoid stupid mistakes so as to minimize casualties and successfully complete the mission.
      John had turned off his internal communications channel because Dana's incessant talking had started to get on his nerves and the silence was welcoming, and yet, almost as annoying as the sound of Dana's rambling.
      In the back of the line the March brothers were chattering on about which one of them could kill the most number of Covies today and the SPARTAN super-soldier thought to himself, I will. It was almost funny sometimes how the Marines customized their armor. Some of them painted on designs ranging from tribal patterns to flames to skulls. The March brothers carved notches into the edges of their armor and now each of their battle suits looked to have severely tattered edges. The UNSC frowned on such changes, but most of that sentiment disappeared as one looked at individual units. Most commanders gave their soldiers free reign over their equipment if it kept morale up and did not alter the combat effectiveness of said unit. As for the Master Chief, he did not need any more customization than the nicks and dings and sections of missing paint on his armor. He wore the battered suit with pride, knowing that no other marking would be necessary to prove that he had indeed seen quite a bit of combat.
      It took the tactical force nearly an hour and a half to get to a point that the crash site could be seen through a pair of binoculars, mostly due to the increasingly rugged terrain. Even John, with his massive stride and enhanced muscle structure, had trouble with some of the hills and fallen rocks. Every step caused a burning sensation to shoot through his legs and in the background John could here some of the other soldiers complaining about the long uphill hike, but the mission was far more important than their aching muscles and constant bitching.
      John perched atop the small ridge behind a cluster of rocks and bushes and Mendoza plopped down next to him. The SPARTAN took a long look through the binoculars, going over in his mind what the options were. No matter which way you sliced this situation, it was ugly.
      "What do you think, private?" John asked as he passed the binoculars to Mendoza.
      Mendoza sat silently for a few minutes, taking in the formations of the Covenant defenses and thinking of the best course of action.
      "Well," the Spanish man said, "If you post on the opposite ridge over there and you snipe what you can, I'll camp over by that tree to the right of us and hammer them with the M19 as much as possible. We could send the March brothers down the left slope of the crater and have them sweep out as many of those Covie bastards as they can. Maybe we should have Draught call in the Alert Five teams now so we won't have to worry about reinforcements. Sound good to you, sir?"
      The Master Chief placed his large hand on Mendoza's shoulder with a slight smile, impressed at how well this young man could form battlefield tactics. "Alright, let's do it."
      They both walked backwards, always making sure to stay as low as possible, to the team that was still waiting at the base of the ridge. The plan was repeated and assignments were given out. The March brothers and the Master chief headed off to the left of the crater while Mendoza and a few other Marines trotted off in the other direction. Draught retreated further down the hill and radioed for the Pelicans to head inbound. The Intrepid also surprised the strike team by informing them that a few Longsword interceptors that had just finished doing a scout of an area upspin and would be able to fly air superiority and help take out the Banshees.
      With everyone in their positions, the count-down started.
      "Engage enemy targets on my mark," John said into his communication link inside his blast helmet. "Three...two...one...mark."
      All hell broke loose.